Video: Robots - Ready to Serve

Toy Robot Museum

Adamstown, Pennsylvania

Retired New York City SWAT cop Joe Knedlhans is the creator and curator of a collection of thousands of toy robots. His museum is in a shopping center, but he lives right upstairs -- so he's likely to be there when you visit.

Video Transcript

Toy Robot Museum - Adamstown, Pennsylvania

[Joe Knedlhans chats about the collection of toy robots surrounding him.]

Knedlhans: I'm a retired New York City police officer and for the last ten of my 20 years with the department I was assigned to the SWAT team and I worked directly with three of the remote mobile investigators the robots that the department had.

They were basically bomb disposal machines that we in the SWAT team used to send in on hostage situations and barricaded perpetrators, emotionally disturbed people, anybody threatening to shoot the first cop that comes to the door. Well, it's not going to be me it would be the bucket of bolts and we'd let the machine take the abuse.

And about 25 years ago my late wife and I were up here antiquing and we happen to be in a toy store looking for something for my cousin's birthday and Margo spot a little plastic robot in the toy shop and she said 'oh honey isn't this cute, you work with robots, here's a toy robot I'll buy it for you isn't that cute,' so I agreed and she bought it for me and then a few months later she bought me a second one for my birthday in a few months later she bought me a third one for Christmas and 25 years later it just got way out of control.

If I could need a robot Robert the robot he was originally made by the ideal toy company in 1954, and he was state-of-the-art high-tech robot toy for his time. He was actually the first American-made talking toy there's a little plastic record inside him and a crank handle on the back and when you turn the handle it turned the record and he spoke and he would say I am Robert robot mechanical man drive me and steer me wherever you can, I am Robert robot the mechanical man, and for 1954 that was that was it.

I enjoy seeing the young people come through here because this is their future. This is what they're going to have commonplace in their lives and their homes as much as folks of our generation take dishwashers and clothes dryers and washing machines for granted. Years ago you know you had to go down to the river and beat your clothes on the rock in order to get them clean. Now we have a mechanical device that will do that for us.

And in the future kids, when they grow up, will have a mechanical device that will do not only their clothes and their dishes but dozens and dozens of other things and that device will be in the form of a bipedal anthropomorphic individual. It'll be a robot.

[Battery operated robot noises]

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