If you haven't seen the movie Hugo, you should. It's a very nice film that features a humanoid automaton that is able to use pen and ink. I had no idea that mechanical devices this complex really existed back in the 18th century, but apparently they did. The one in the video above is able to write. It is one of three automatons that still exist built by watchmaker Jaquet Droz and his family. The mechanical wonder is based on a clock mechanism that moves the hand with the pen and the paper to spell out words. There is another one that draws and a third that plays the piano. I can't imagine what it would have been like to plan and build such a device without the aid of computers.