Automata are self-operating machines designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations. Some automata are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power.
The first automata were based on clockworks and manufactured by watch- and clockmakers to advertise their skilful work. This trend grew to elaborate musical arrangements of several moving figures paving the way from shop window to home entertainment. During the Industrial Revolution the popular musical machines made a leap to mass-produced entertainment manufactured purely for pleasure.
From the middle of the 19th until beginning of the 20th century great numbers of automata were manufactured by small family businesses in Paris such as Gustave Vichy, Leopold Lambert, Jean-Marie Phalibois, Alexandre Theroude and Roullet & Decamps.
The automaton acted as contemporary witness capturing current events and technological development. From the scorn against aristocracy in revolutionary France, over the rise of the middle-class in the Industrial Revolution to the colonisation and travel to mysterious foreign countries, all was captured in character, dress, scenery and musical composition.sources