R.U.R: Rossum’s Universal Robots

History of Sorts

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On this day 81 years ago the BBC broadcast the first piece of television science-fiction ever.

On 11 February 1938 a thirty-five-minute adapted extract of the play RUR, written by the Czech playwright Karel Čapek, was broadcast live from the BBC’s Alexandra Palace studios. Concerning a future world in which robots rise up against their human masters, it was the only piece of science fiction to be produced until the BBC television service resumed after the war..

The play introduced the word robot, which displaced older words such as “automaton” or “android” in languages around the world. In an article in Lidové noviny Karel Čapek named his brother Josef as the true inventor of the word.In Czech, robota means forced labour of the kind that serfs had to perform on their masters’ lands and is derived from rab, meaning “slave”.

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The play had been referenced in several popular TV shows after it’s first broadcast in 1938.

n the Star Trek episode “Requiem for…

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