The Way Back: Turtle Power

 

The Way Back

There’s no evidence to suggest that the inhabitants of Turtle Pond ever met Tessie, a giant mechanical Franken-turtle built at UT in 1954, but at roughly 4 feet long and 3 feet wide, Tessie was surely big enough to fill UT’s flesh-and-bone reptile populace with Vader-esque feelings of dread.

Perhaps Tessie’s friendly eyes and generous smile painted atop her papier-mâché head would have been enough to dispel any foreboding. If not, a quick glance underneath the hood—or shell—would reveal her to be little more than a mass of wires and motors.

Though the reasoning behind the turtle’s construction is lost to history, Tessie was built by Arthur W. Ivy, BS ’54, and displayed at the University Interscholastic League’s 45th All-University Exposition and Power Show. Among the creations accompanying Tessie at the annual exhibit of future scientific feats was an electronic tic-tac-toe player named George, constructed out of disued pinball machines.

Photo credit: University Interscholastic League Records, Briscoe Center, UT-Austin

 

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