The world’s first automatic machine was assembled in the era of Louis XVI (in 1773), by Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz, whom it took 20 months of hard work to make it.

His name is “The Writing Boy,” and at first glance it looks like a toy—it’s a tiny wooden doll with a porcelain head. The “kid” is barefoot and has a goose feather in his hand.

Inside the dummy, however, lies a true wonder of engineering thought: 6,000 moving pieces operate a writing mechanism. The first thing he writes is, “my inventor is Jaquet-Droz.”

The first performance took place in Paris in 1774 and sparked awe at the court of King Louis XVI.