Jaquet Droz All 3 automaton, "The Writer" and The Girl At the Piano

The First Programmable Computer: Automaton Jaquet Droz

Humans are amazing, and amazing humans seem to be connected to the realm of all capable thought and ideas.

Pierre Jaquet Droz

Pierre Jaquet Droz proved he is one of those connected humans when he invented the first programmable computer, and possibly the first AI robot when he built The Writer, an automaton, around 1760.



Pierre Jaquet Droz is one of the most fascinating horologists in the history of watchmaking. His creative flair matched an inventive engineering talent proved in his inventions, watches, and music boxes.

Who invented the computer?

Jaquet Droz in Switzerland around 1760. 

What is a Computer?

A computer processes data by running a program. Programs are the instructions  written onto them how the functions will behave when energized. What will be the output, what is it to do when it is program is processed. A computer runs programs. 

Jaquet Droz Invented the First Programmable Computer

Jaquet Droz invented the computer as a bi-product to his mechanical creative genius; a function that transcends both horology & art when he built the first programmable computer.

Jaquet Droz was a horologist, a watchmaker. Watchmakers by craft are mechanics & artists always combining style and function into esthetically exciting combinations of function, art, and beauty. Time & Space are intertwined and the same, like two threads woven into interdimensional sheets; no one can consider time & space without entering into no-less than Everything.

The mechanical measurement of time applied with stunning style and fashion, this is Jaquet Droz. A horologist.

Watchmakers are mathematicians and scientists.

Enter The Automaton.

Automaton's are machines made to behave in a certain manner using the same and similar mechanisms horologist use to create time keeping devices. Most automatons are wound or store wound energy in a spring. When the power is applied an automaton may be designed to physically act all kinds of scenes, from a swan eating a fish, to a fortune teller with glowing eyes. Sure neat, but only when Jaquet Droz created "The Writer" was the first computer born.

Jaquet Droz created three automatons which are still in working condition now at the Neuchâtel Museum of Art and History.

The Draftsman | The Musician | The Writer

Jaquet Droz Automatons All Three


But an automaton is not a computer, you say? It's like a mechanical puppet, playing out its motions just as a leaf falls to the ground - because it has to. Except, these automatons can be programmed how to "fall".



First Computer because The Writer, is Programmable.

The Writer is considered to be the first computer because The Writer, is Programmable. The Writer can be programmed what to write before the program is executed.

The Writer

From the front end The Writer is a boy at a desk with an ink quill pen about to pen a letter. From the backend of the device though we the power of the unwinding spring moves gears and a stack of cams that turn more gears and handles, in turn moving parts of the machine at certain times making the boy act in the way the artist would like it to.

Here is How The Writer is Programmed

A User can use type blocks to spell out what they want the boy Writer to write!  The configuration of letters in the mechanical works of The Writer can be swapped in and out, each block has a shape that directs the quill of the writer to write that letter, a person can program the machine to write anything they want.


Image from BBCFour video embedded above, Must Watch!


The Writer will turn out what it is programmed to write. 

It is The Writer's ability to be programmed what to write is why it is said that Jaquet Droz invented the first computer.

Magic Theater: Entertainment For The Wealthy

The Writer can write up to 40 characters, using a feather quill The Writer dips the feather into ink, shakes off the access ink, and writes. His eyes watching his writing move from the paper to the ink and back to the paper. The Writer is a lifelike doll that when combined with automatic movement creates a stunning presence to those lucky enough to see him. Consider especially that for most of the people who have experienced The Writer have done so in candlelight and would have never dreamed of a robot or computer. To them, The Writer would have been like magic.

In A Museum in Switzerland

The Writer still thrills us today. Housed in the [Musée d'Art et d'Histoire Neuchâtel](http://www.neuchateltourisme.ch/en/decouvertes/unique-attractions/automates-neuchatel.1478.html) all three of Jaque Droz' automatons still work and are on display.


How the mechanical boy, The Writer, works Images Article Link



Additional Resources:

The Mechanisms of Automata: How to Make Automaton Movement