Remarkable artefact and remarkable performance! From the description:
On February 15, 2014 the Franklin Institute brought together a group of clock makers, conservators, and engineers for a day-long meeting to discuss the Maillardet Automaton, and at the conclusion of the day’s talks we were all treated to a very rare private performance of all seven renderings of this amazing 214 year old machine that was the inspiration for the film Hugo. Enjoy!
and also there a link to Fran’s blogging of reverse engineering the automat:
Reverse Engineering the Maillardet Automaton
Here’s the imperial version, the all-writing miracle machine (Allesschreibende Wundermaschine, Vienna, 1760).
Since empires tend to be a bit clumsy, this doesn’t move the writing hand over the paper to advance to the next letter, but rather moves the writing board. But it makes up for it with a bit of grandeur and chez-ne-sais-quois.
An interesting aspect of this one is that the text is stored on a drum using pegs, which then transmits to a bank of marked levers (which indicate the character in process as a predecessor to console lights), with the actually movements stored on another drum made of individual cams. So there is already some notion of task-specific storage.