March 14, 1749 – Franklin’s “Benny Bots”

March 14, 1749, Benjamin Franklin, hungover from an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration, invented the first working lightning rod under the false pretense that he meant to make people’s homes and buildings safer from lightning.  Franklin had long been known as an inventor, having been the brains behind such inventions as bifocals, the odometer, and the flexible urinary catheter.  In actuality Franklin’s lightning rod was created for something much different.  He was secretly looking to harness electricity to power his recently assembled droid army.  Having long anticipated a split from the British throne, Franklin wanted to ensure that America’s future would be secure with his so called “Benny Bots”.

Understanding the paranoia of the time and not wanting to be accused of witchcraft (or warlock-craft in his case) Franklin kept his Benny Bots pretty close to the vest for many years.  When it became obvious that separation from the British Empire was close and a war was inevitable, Franklin presented his creation to his fellow Founding Fathers.  In what has often been considered the first official democratic vote in America, a landslide decision was reached to burn Franklin at the stake for “flagrant warlockness”.  It was only at the last minute that General George Washington and his giant pet eagle (see July 4, 1776 – ‘Murica Day for more detail) stepped in to save Mr. Franklin.  Franklin was given the opportunity to explain the science behind his invention in order to salvage his reputation, but few of the Founding Fathers actually listened as they were too busy giggling and daring each other to test out the flexible urinary catheter.  After a failed test battle at Thomas Jefferson’s house left half of Monticello in ruins, the droids were sidelined for good.  The Benny Bots sat in storage for over a century until they were finally purchased at auction in 1928 from the government by a fledgling Motorola company, eventually leading to the droid cell phones we see today.

Note: It is said that on his death bed, Benjamin Franklin, in a moment of prophetic clarity quietly whispered “hello moto” before passing away.

Here’s a fun, little known, fact for you Star Wars fans out there.  In Star Wars: Episode 1, George Lucas actually used the original Franklin Benny Bot blueprints to design the look of his Trade Federation droids who battled the Gungans in the second half of the movie.  Another piece Lucas tied in was the knowledge that Franklin also had an assistant by the name of Dr. Jarvis Binks, whom was often called “Jar Jar” as a nickname.  Everyone hated him too.

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