Saturday, January 9, 2010

Born This Day: Karel Capek

Doom Patrol © DC Comics
Karel Čapek (Jan. 9, 1890 – Dec. 25, 1938) was one of the most influential Czech writers of the 20th century. He introduced and made popular the frequently used international word robot, which first appeared in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in 1921.

The word robot comes from the word robota meaning literally serf labor, and, figuratively, "drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech, Slovak and Polish. The origin of the word is the Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude" ("work" in contemporary Russian), which in turn comes from the Indo-European root *orbh-.

While it is frequently thought that Karel Čapek was the originator of the word, he wrote a short letter in reference to an article in the Oxford English Dictionary etymology in which he named his brother, Josef Čapek, as its actual inventor. From Wiki