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03 JUNE 2013

Les Automates Jaquet-Droz

"Réalisé principalement par Pierre Jaquet–Droz, l'Ecrivain est le plus compliqué des trois mécanismes. Assis devant un pupitre, l'automate tient une plume d'oie qu'il trempe dans l'encrier, puis il la secoue légèrement avant de commencer de dessiner les lettres sur le papier. Grâce à un mécanisme annexe, ses yeux suivent son travail. L'Ecrivain est capable de tracer un texte de 40 signes au maximum, répartis sur quatre lignes. La principale invention de son mécanisme est le système de programmation par disque, qui lui permet d'écrire des textes suivis sans intervention extérieure. Il est également possible de lui faire écrire n'importe quelle phrase, lettre par lettre."

(Musée d'art et d'histoire de Neuchâtel)

[A robotic draftsman which is able to write through following a programmable sequence of letters.]





1774 • 18th centuryandroidanimated modelsautomataautomation • clockwork • computer historydevicefuturistic machines • Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz • human-likehumanoid automatonindustrial heritageinteractive toy • Jean-Frederic Leschot • kinetic automaton • Les automates • mechanical beingmechanical engineering • Pierre Jaquet-Droz • programmable device • quill pen • robotsimulacrasimulationspeculative designSwitzerlandsynthesis machineswriterwriting machine


Simon Perkins
19 APRIL 2010

The Jacquard loom: automation through stored programmes

"In consequence of the Industrial Revolution, the late 18th century had witnessed a considerable expansion in the automation of processes that had once been the preserve of small groups of highly skilled workers employed in so–called 'cottage industries'. The textile industry was one sphere were industrialisation had rendered obsolete such skills. Whereas, prior to the development of mechanical looms and weaving machines, lengths of fabric had to be woven slowly by hand, the advent of powered tools for carrying out this task meant that quantities of fabric could be mass–produced at a far quicker rate than previously, thereby reducing its expense. There was one area, however, where the new machines could not compete with skilled manual workers: in the generation of cloth containing anything other than a plain (or at best extremely simple) woven pattern. The Jacquard Loom provided a solution to this problem so that, with it in use, extremely intricate patterns and pictures could be automatically woven into cloth at much the same rate as a plain length of fabric could be generated. The key idea behind Jacquard's loom was to control the action of the weaving process by interfacing the behaviour of the loom to an encoding of the pattern to be reproduced. In order to do this Jacquard arranged for the pattern to be depicted as a groups of holes 'punched' into a sequence of pasteboard card. Each card contained the same number of rows and columns, the presence or absence of a hole was detected mechanically and used to determine the actions of the loom. By combining a 'tape' of cards together the Jacquard loom was able to weave (and reproduce) patterns of great complexity, e.g. a surviving example is a black and white silk portrait of Jacquard woven under the control of a 10,000 card 'program'."

(Paul E. Dunne, University of Liverpool)



1801 • 18th centuryanalogue correspondenceautomation • cottage industries • devicefabrichistoryindustrial heritageindustrial revolutionindustrialisationJacquard loom • Joseph Marie Jacquard • loompatternpioneerprogrammable deviceprogrammepunch cardspunched-card systemreproductionsequencesolutiontechnologytextile industrytextilesweave • weaving machine


Simon Perkins
19 FEBRUARY 2010

Industrial and Social Heritage Accessible Through AHRC Pilot Project

"More than 75,000 intricate lace samples, considered to be of national and international importance, have been placed in a new archive at Nottingham Trent University. The collection – acquired by the university and its forerunners over many years through bequests from lace manufacturers and the lace federation – features many significant items, including some which date back to the 1600s. ...

A new steering group has been formed to support the collection, featuring a range of key academic experts as well as leading figures in lace and museology from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and The Bowes Museum in County Durham. The group will work to link the archive to other significant collections and will be responsible for future exhibitions, research opportunities and promoting and maintaining the relationship between Nottingham and the lace industry.

The majority of donations to the university's collection were made from the late 19th to the mid–20th Centuries and include single pieces, such as cuffs, bonnets and collars; garments and garment panels. There are items in manufacturers' sample books, photographs of lace from a breadth of sources and collections, and portfolios of machine–made lace. The collection not only includes British designs but also portfolios of lace from Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Russia.

The collection is regularly studied and researched by representatives from The Lace Guild, various lace and textile organisations, academic experts and undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Dr Amanda Briggs–Goode, programme leader for Textile Design in Nottingham Trent University's School of Art and Design, said: 'It is important for us to conserve and understand the industrial, social and design heritage that this collection brings, and having an official archive space is the ideal way to achieve this. To date, access to the collection has been limited, but this will help us to form the basis of a professional archive which charts the history of Nottingham lace. ...

A project to pilot a database and make key parts of the lace collection web–accessible has also been recently completed, following funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council."

(Katy Cowan, 4 February 2010, Creative Boom magazine)



1600s • 17th centuryAHRC • Amanda Briggs-Goode • archiveArts and Humanities Research CouncilBelgium • Bowes Museum • collectionconservationcraftcreative industriesdatabasedecorationdesign • design heritage • fabricFrancegarmentGermanyheritagehistoryHollandindustrial heritageindustrialisationlace • lace collection • lace federation • lace industry • lace manufacturinglace-makingmachine-madematerialmuseologyNottinghamNottingham Trent UniversityNTUpatternPortugalRussia • sample books • School of Art and DesignsearchSpainSwitzerlandtechnologytextile designtextilesUK • Venetian • Victoria and Albert Museumvintagevisual design


Simon Perkins

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