Jaquet Droz Time-Writing Machine: Elegant in Still Life, Clumsy on Video

Gaze upon Machine à Ecrire le Temps—so elegant, you say it in French—created by watchmaker Jaquet Droz as an homage to its robot-building 18th-century Swiss founder. Live, though, the $342,000 line-drawer ain't so smooth.

I'm not saying I could cobble together a 1,200-part machine that you wind up to write down the time in 4th-grade block print. That is indeed a feat. But I am saying that the stuff Pierre Jaquet-Droz himself apparently contrived way back in the late 1700s, for instance, the 6,000-piece Writer—arguably the first input-output computer—sounds a lot cooler. [Oh Gizmo]