The text to be written by the automaton could be programmed. By some people's definition, The Writer is an early -- perhaps the first -- version of the computer, having an input method, programmable instructions, and an output display.
Computer or no, this is a work of unparalleled craftsmanship. That it still works today, hundreds of years later is a testament to its excellent design and construction.
This and two other Jacquet-Droz automata are on display at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland.
This video is from TIL Productions, by Director Philippe Sayous of www.automates-anciens.com