Vaucanson, Jacques de

Vaucanson, Jacques de

biographical name

(born Feb. 24, 1709, Grenoble, France—died Nov. 21, 1782, Paris) French inventor. In 1739 he constructed an automaton, “The Duck,” which imitated not only the motions of a live duck but also the motions of drinking, eating, and “digesting.” An inspector of silk manufacture, Vaucanson automated the loom by means of perforated cards that guided hooks connected to the warp yarns (see weaving). His innovation was ignored for decades until J.-M. Jacquard reconstructed and improved on it; the Jacquard loom became one of the most important inventions of the Industrial Revolution.

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