"It's larger than a man. It walks, it talks, and emits eerie electronic sounds. Its photon beams, sonic rays, and blinking lights suggest complex electronic circuits worked by remote control. Sensitive human bio-feedback mechanisms permit ON/OFF to demonstrate almost human intelligence as it takes over its environment... "

When the Wonders of the World Museum opened in Port Costa, CA in April 1976, Bailey made a life-size robot as a promoter and barker for the museum. ON/OFF the Wonder Robot was born.

With Bailey or his son, Kurt inside, it walks and talks with an amplified reverberating voice. ON/OFF appears on the street outside the museum to demonstrate his uncanny abilities for an hour or two every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. His purpose is to intimidate human beings. The robot chases the children around the street and orders the adults to "go to the Museum".


ON/OFF has a human "controller" with a lab coat, a hard hat, and a wireless remote control box. The control box buzzes, flashes lights, and adds to the illusion that you are seeing a real, remote controlled robot. The robot is programmed to collect specimens for the museum; literally herding the crowds into the museum from the "outer space" of the Port Costa street. Sometimes the robot careens out of control, and sometimes, it demands coins to operate properly, or to dispense a souvenir picture postcard. The newspapers call ON/OFF the "Pied Piper of Port Costa".

ON/OFF is sometimes guilty of naughty behaviour. He is known to lust for Marilyn Monrobot, and he talks lovingly to telephone booths and on occasion he asks motorcycles to meet him for a "good time" after work. ON/OFF especially likes human women; asking them if they would like to "polish him off". If he particularily likes a woman, his charging socket drops out from a pouch in his abdominal area. "Socket to me", he demands as the women run away screaming.

In the late 1970s ON/OFF did many robot appearances at shopping centers, Toy and Hobby Shows and Science Fiction Conventions in the San Francisco area. Bailey's "Rent-A-Robot" clients included Chevron, Nordstrom, Grand Auto, TransAmerica Corp. and the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. Because of the physical exertion involved in wearing the robot costume, Bailey begins cross country running to get into better physical shape. He finally retired his robot costume in 1987, and started making ceramics again.

Photograph: ON/OFF

Grandfather Robot- 1975

Ceramic, metal, light, sound


"Robots can provide enjoyment and employment for humans, rather than taking their jobs away. Robots are, for me, a way of making a living. I can put on a robot suit and do things I couldn't otherwise do, and get jobs I couldn't get as a human being."

Clayton Bailey -1976