History of Hubotics

From Archive of Vintage Robotics & Technology Companies

Hubotics Logo

Hubotics was a home robot company that sold the Hubot and its accessories.

The company started in January 1982, and ended in March of 1985, selling only 75-80 Hubots. Despite having over 700 orders lined up from multiple retailers, the company's recency meant they weren't able to secure any investment funds to fulfil them.

History[edit | edit source]

In January of 1982, Michael N. Forino would meet with multiple of his engineering friends for breakfast, sketching out on a napkin an idea for a home robot. They convinced him to take the next step into forming that idea. By the end of the month he had formed the Hubotics company. He brought in Bob Sacks as Vice President of Sales, Don Skinner as Vice President of Production, and Dan English as the Chief Engineer on the project. Two unnamed software developers were also brought aboard.[1][2][3]

Now that the company was formed, it would begin the design phase of its robot, alongside securing early funding for the development costs. The company began producing a prototype run of Hubots, which would be completed almost a year later in May of 1983. Pre-orders began being offered after this point.[1]

The Hubotics CES Booth

CES[edit | edit source]

From January 7-10th, 1984, the company would hold a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. This was their first documented public unveiling of Hubot, alongside being when full orders were now being taken, with an asking price of $3495.[1][4] Hubotics would claim that unlike other home robots being showcased, their robot wasn't just for hobbyists, programmers, or teachers, but a robot truly for home use.[5] Two months later, a patent for Hubot would be filed on February 6, 1984.[6]

Production Troubles[edit | edit source]

Orders would begin coming in from retailers such as Abraham Strass, Macy and Sharper Image, and the company would begin producing its line of Hubots. The company planned it would most likely be able to ship 2000[7], but was struggling to find investors willing to help fund such large-scale production for such a new company. At this point the company had partnered with Robot Industries Inc. (AKA Raymond Industries Inc.) to manufacture some of their Hubots.[8]

Promotional Image

Upgrades & Expansion[edit | edit source]

Hubotics planned multiple future upgrade options after launch:[9][10]

  • An auto-charger module that allowed Hubot to detect its battery level, navigating automatically to its battery station to charge when low.
  • The ability to plug Hubot into an electrical outlet to have it remotely control appliances
  • A vacuum attachment which was also prototyped and tested.
  • An articulated arm mounted on the side of the robot.
  • Speech recognition for commands.
  • Cordless Telephone w/ a 300 baud modem
  • Remote control of Hubot.
  • By 1985 multiple sources claimed a new "Sentry Package" was now available that could help in the detection of home burglers, smoke, and heat. This is also conflictingly claimed as a package that didn't make it.[11][10][12]

Early 1985[edit | edit source]

In January of 1985, the company would make a deal with the Frankfort-based companty Schilling Mess U. Regeltechnik in an attempt to introduce Hubot to the European market. No units however would make it through this deal.[13]

Hubot would make its last public appearance at the CES Winter 1985 show that same month, now being claimed as "The Ultimate Appliance of the 80's".[14][15]

Closure[edit | edit source]

By March of 1985, Hubotics had shipped 55 Hubots, despite having received orders at that point for over 700.[16] With no success finding any investors, even after its successful shipment of units, the company would close between the end of March and May of that year. The company ended its Hubot run with 75-80 units shipped.[7] Michael Forino would move onto becoming president of USRobotics, a modem manufacturer.[17]

References[edit | edit source]