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The 7 Most Important Talking Machines In History

Turns out humans aren't the only ones with something interesting to say. These 'bots may not be ready to philosophize with you yet, but from fiction to nonfiction, they've done any number of impressive things for humanity. And with GE's Industrial Internet, it's not gonna stop here.

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1. SmarterChild

Tim Bartel / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Flickr: avatar-1

You might best remember "SmarterChild" as that bot you used to ask dirty jokes back in the early days of AIM, but its advent was still important—SmarterChild was the first mainstream machine you could have a casual chat with. Even if you probably had to hurriedly close that chat so Mom wouldn't see.

2. "Robot B9"


The aptly named "Robot B9" on the classic TV series Lost in Space was very important not just because he was constantly warning of danger, but also because he was one of the first to be IN a television series. Not to mention that he was voiced by the venerable Dick Tufeld.

3. Marvin (the Paranoid Android)

©Touchstone Pictures / Everett Collection

Marvin has served as the intergalactic guide for countless travelers in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, and his distinctly relatable depression and constant boredom is what makes him so important for human-machine relations. We've all been there, man.

4. The Macintosh


"Hello, I'm Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag."

The first Macintosh was presented by Steve Jobs on January 24, 1984, to a wholly stunned audience. Aside from its unprecendented graphical interface, the Mac could talk on its own, and even gave its own introduction—the first of its kind. (Skip to 3:15 in the video.)

5. The Maschinenmensch

Everett Collection

The Maschinenmensch is cited as the first real appearance of a "robot" on film, and even if it was just Brigitte Helm underneath all that sleek robotic stuff, the Maschinenmensch was all the better for it. A sick robot with a sultry voice and human-like features? Now that's the future we want for all machines.

6. Chatbots

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The chat these two hold is a bit unsettling, but the fact that it's two machines just hangin' out and chattin' on their own is awesome. And it's only gonna get more impressive from here.

7. HRP-4C

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / AFP / Getty Images / Via

HRP-4C's applications in its short life have been quite varied, to say the least. The HRP is modeled after the average Japanese woman in its proportions, and its gestures are perhaps the closest we've seen yet in terms of mimicking humans'. The robot has been used to do everything from serve cocktails and chat up dinner guests to modeling fashions on the catwalk.

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These machines are just the beginning. GE is using the #IndustrialInternet to build intelligent jet engines, locomotives, turbines and more. For decades, technology has connected people and businesses globally. Now, the Industrial Internet will provide an open, global network that connects machines, people, and data. Check out a few more of our favorite robots on their way to get a first-look at the next generation of brilliant machines.