Robot pioneer Joseph F. Engelberger Dies at Age 90
Ian Wright posted on December 02, 2015 |
Joseph F. Engelberger

Joseph F. Engelberger "The Henry Ford of Robotics" 1925-2015

The Father of Robotics, Joseph F. Engelberger, passed away on December 1, 2015 in his Newtown, Connecticut home at the age of 90.
Engelberger co-founded Unimation along with George Devol. The two first met at a cocktail party in 1956. When Devol told him about his patent-pending Programmed Article Transfer device, Engelberger was the first to identify the device as a robot.

The two engineers completed their first prototype—the Unimate #001—in 1959 and installed it at a General Motors die casting plant the same year.

In 1966, Engelberger granted licenses for Nokia and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to manufacture the Unimate. This marked the beginning of the European and Asian robotics markets, respectively. He appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson to demonstrate Unimate’s capabilities that same year.

“Joe Engelberger made some of the most important contributions to technological advancement in the history of the world,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). Engelberger was instrumental in founding the organization.

The RIA named its prestigious annual award after him in recognition of his contributions to robotics. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honorary doctorates and in 2009 he was inducted into the U.S. Manufacturers Hall of Fame.

Engelberger received a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University while designing control systems for nuclear power plants for Manning, Maxwell & Moore. Prior to that, he worked on the atom bomb project “Operation Crossroads” at Bikini Atoll while serving in the Navy.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 26, 1925, to parents Joseph and Irene Engelberger, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. His wife, Marge Engelberger, died in 2007. He is survived by his daughter Gay Engelberger, son Jeff Engelberger and grandson Ian Engelberger.

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