In a historic address covered by international media, Anne Arundel Community College’s 1983 commencement speaker warned graduates that technology was transforming the workforce — and urged them to be adaptable.
The speaker? A four-foot-tall, 175-pound white fiberglass robot with red eyes, a camera lens nose and a bow tie.
Its name? Robot Redford.
“Today every man, woman and child has a relationship to computers," it said, according toTheWashington Post. "But do you remember just a few decades ago when computers were controversial? Society has not always welcomed technological advances with open arms!"
Bill Bakaleinikoff, the robot’s energetic, fun-loving inventor, died after a three-year battle with kidney cancer on June 20, his wife said. The Half Moon Bay, Calif., resident was 75.
Bakaleinikoff served in the Marine Corps from 1962-68, then founded an advertising agency that helped promote the U.S. aerospace industry.
He moved in the 1970s to Northern California, where he enjoyed the live music scene and, after being seated behind a pillar at a show, created “Sit Where You Want,” a guide to major Bay Area concert venues.
Bakaleinikoff joined Advanced Robotics in the early 1980s to lead its in-house advertising and created Superior Robotics of America and Star Robots USA, where he developed the robot that would bring him international attention at Anne Arundel.
A graduating liberal arts major told The New York Times she thought the robot was cute, and the speech was meaningful and in good taste.
“I'll never forget this speech,'' the graduate, Margaret Cunningham, said. “You forget a political leader, but you won't forget a robot.”
In addition to his wife and son, Bakaleinikoff is survived by son Mischa Bakaleinikoff, of Santa Rosa, Calif.; his daughter Whitney Bakaleinikoff, of Sedona, Ariz.; two sisters, Annie Bakaleinikoff, of Redding, Calif., and Penny Theriot Perigan, of Dandridge, Tenn.; and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.