You MUST check out this incredible BBC documentary. Presented by Simon Schaffer, the documentary tells the story of automata -- those amazing clockwork machines designed to mimic and recreate life.
From the documentary description:
The film brings the past to life in vivid detail as we see how and why these masterpieces were built. Travelling around Europe, Simon uncovers the history of these machines and shows us some of the most spectacular examples, from an entire working automaton city to a small boy who can be programmed to write and even a device that can play chess. All the machines Simon visits show a level of technical sophistication and ambition that still amazes today.
Schaffer also explains the world in which these mechanical marvels were made: the workers who built them, their role in trade and the industrial revolution, as well as providing information on the designers who invented them. Finally, he shows that these fantastic hybrids of art and engineering are the ancestors of many of our most beloved modern devices.
Here is a link to the BBC page about the documentary Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams.
[ Thanks to all who sent this my way! ]