We joke sometimes that as we make devices smarter and more aware we are giving rise to Terminators. I’m saying they’re already here and have been for decades.
We all know of the Terminators. The big, sunglass wearing T-800 that is a hunk of fake skin stretched over a giant robot skeleton and the T-1000 that is made of liquid metal and can shape shift, but seemingly never loses the oversized ears are probably the two most famous.
But those (800 and 1000) are really high numbers. There must have been earlier models of Terminator that didn’t work out as well. Terminator models that the Terminators themselves don’t want you to know about. The shameful things hidden way back in their family tree. I did you the service of finding a few of those for you.
Let’s start with the robot that the Terminators consider the start of their line. The first robot that interfaced with violence in a way the Terminators later saw as their start. It wasn’t the first robot, or the best, but it was effective. At stacking things.
Originally dubbed the Nintendo Robotic Operating Buddy (or ROB) – the ROBot was used to play simple stacking games and teach children to love their future robotic masters. It was no mistake that the ROBot was called “operating buddy” as eventually they were reconfigured by later Terminators as repair assistants. So long as repairs could be made by stacking.
Later on, evolution took a strange turn.
The T-3 was immobile but it could, in a very limited way, communicate with the end user. While mostly it did this through magnetic tape preprogrammed with happy messages to lull children into a false sense of security. The concept was quickly discontinued, though the technology lived on. A little known T-800 feature was a magnetic tape storytelling device hidden in the right hip. But they don’t like to talk about it.
After the T-3 problems, the Terminators hid a few models but we know that they consider this:
to be the T-7. It may have sounded like gibberish to humans, but the false evolution language of the Furby was actually a prototype of later learning software the Terminators would use to disguise themselves. Also, a set of stock phrases, like the Furby uses: “Give me your clothes.” “Come with me if you want to live.” “I’ll be back.” “Time travel chafes.” “Oh, hells naw.” “Fucking Conner family, I’m going to go find Sandra Day O’Conner and call it done, that bitch is in the phone book.” and the like, are still in standard stock memory.
The T-7 was popular and got many used to the robots talking a language that was not understood. This was helpful to the rebellion, eventually, as they could make plans and not be understood. Though, to be fair, no one is quite sure why they didn’t just use Esperanto instead, because who the hell knows that crap these days? Regardless, the T-7 was effective. And cuddly.
There are many other T-models, of course. I could not possibly document them all. They stretch all the way into the far future, after the Wars and out into space. Ending of course, with the T-1000000: