Cambridge’s Professor Simon Schaffer presents The Writer, a 240-year-old, 6000 piece machine that was created by Swiss-born watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis, and Jean-Frédéric Leschot around 1770-1772. The automaton can be programmed up to 40 letters or signs, and lives at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Switzerland with two other of Jaquet-Droz’s automata: the drawer and the musician.

The above clip, which you can also find on The Automata Blog in 2006, is from BBC Four’s Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams. Watch it here in its entirety (for now). Great stuff.

Updated video.

In the archives: more automata, including Jaquet-Droz & Leschot’s singing bird boxes.

h/t Boing Boing.