Build Your Own Robot
January 18, 2014 5:15 PM   Subscribe

At the age of 13, Sherwood "Woody" Fuehrer started building a pretzel-can bodied robot named Gismo out of spare parts.

After lugging the 98-pound robot to the Today show and back, Woody decided Gismo needed to be self-propelled. After damaging the original attempting to motorize it, he rebuilt Gismo with a more substantial old drum body, powered by a 1/12 horsepower motor, and talking through an old radio speaker. This improved Gismo won 3rd prize and an ingenuitiy award in the Ford Industrial Arts Awards.

A few months after running his story, Boys' Life magazine published instructions to build Gismo the Great, described as the next of kin to Woody's creation. Gismo the Great was followed by GISMO2BL, GISMO 3, GISMO 4, and GISMO 5.
posted by ckape (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
CUT TO: a gun wielding Gizmo crushing a human skull under its foot.
posted by brundlefly at 5:30 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Sir, we've got a great idea for a movie!"

"Let's hear it."

"It's based on a true story."

"All right."

"It's the mid-1950s."


"A 13-year-old builds a functioning robot."


"The robot's name is Gismo."


"The boy's name is Woody Fuehrer."

posted by Sys Rq at 6:02 PM on January 18, 2014 [15 favorites]

I'm still sad that I've never been able to build a GISMO2BL. I even ordered a copy of that issue of Boy's Life a year ago.
posted by drezdn at 6:20 PM on January 18, 2014

My own GISMO 3 sat around uncompleted for years. Eventually it got thrown out, and I'm not sure if my mom ever reclaimed her vegetable steamer.
posted by ckape at 6:43 PM on January 18, 2014

I missed it earlier because they're spelling it wrong, but looks like Gismo is still around.
posted by ckape at 9:01 PM on January 18, 2014

I was too young for GISMO2BL (which was on the cover of my first issue of Boy's Life), but I finished GISMO 3. I had to save up the money for the parts, and I remember the odd looks I got when I purchased the Rubbermaid container for his head.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:31 PM on January 18, 2014

Thanks for this, btw, never knew about the whole Woody thing.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:31 PM on January 18, 2014

ckape: I'm sure a mod/admin/Grand High Arbiter will let you edit the article or edit it for you if you ask nicely, and possibly participate in an arcane ritual such as The Wreck of the Hesperus or The Paddling of the Swollen Ass (with Paddles).
posted by BiggerJ at 12:06 AM on January 19, 2014

In the cyberneticzoo link above there's a scan of a photo from an old World Book Encyclopedia with the caption: "For a lot of people around the globe with their own set of World Book Encyclopedias, or in public libraries, this is what a robot was and looked like for a long time." That reminded me of the photo of Mr. Mobar from the Robot entry in the 1975 World Book Encyclopedia that I grew up with. A few years ago I looked in vain online to see if I could dig up any information on Mr. Mobar and his young builder.
posted by cropshy at 6:36 AM on January 19, 2014

It would be interesting to know what this kid went on to do with his life.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:36 AM on January 19, 2014

According to numerous sources he passed away in 1964.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:11 PM on January 19, 2014

That does appear to be the case, unfortunately.

Seems he graduated from Brown in 1962, though, so that's something.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:51 PM on January 19, 2014

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