Going Out With a Bang: We Salute “Shelbot” & 12 Years of The Big Bang Theory
It’s hard to believe it’s been a dozen years since CBS’s The Big Bang Theory first entered our atmosphere (September 24, 2007), and it’s even harder to imagine a universe with no more new episodes featuring our favorite, lovable science freaks and geeks. But after this 12th season, which premieres on September 24, 2018 (8:00 p.m. EST), we’ll have to say goodbye to Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Howard, Raj, Amy and, along with the rest of the crew... Shelbot.
“Shelbot” made his first appearance on a 2010 episode of The Big Bang Theory called, “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification.” In this episode, physicist Dr. Sheldon Cooper builds a robot he calls a “Mobile Virtual Presence Device (MVPD),” when he realizes he won't live long enough to download his consciousness into a robot body - so he attempts to extend his lifespan. (Fun fact: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak starred as himself in this episode.)
You may recognize the MVPD, which looks like a primitive Beam. Just like our telepresence systems, it’s a mobile device with a webcam, flat panel display that shows Sheldon live, and loudspeakers. Like many of our clients, Sheldon chooses to personalize his MVPD - using one of his shirts.
Shelbot is no stunt robot, either. According to The Big Bang Theory wiki, the video shots of Sheldon interacting with his friends as Shelbot are all shot live, without the use of a green screen - only a color filter that makes it match the designed color temperature.
The roots of the Shelbot storyline goes back to 2010 and our founder Scott Hassan’s early ventures with telepresence technology. Per The Big Bang Theory wiki, the inspiration for the Shelbot came from a June 12, 2010 article in the New York Times on the Singularity Movement entitled, "Merely Human? That's So Yesterday.”
What caught the eye of The Big Bang Theory writers wasn’t just the article, but the video that accompanied the piece that showed Scott and Google founder Sergey Brin maneuvering a Texai telepresence device that they were calling, “Brinbot.” That very Texai telepresence robot was one of a 25 prototypes that evolved into the Beams you can buy today.
We’ll certainly miss the fun storylines - like Howard and Raj making Star Wars-related cracks (like, “Hey look, it's Leonard and R2-D-bag”) or Penny managing to both soothe and avoid Sheldon by catering to him in Shelbot form:
We know that we’ll be watching the Sept. 24th Season 12 premiere of The Big Bang Theory live and in person, too.
And we’ll always be grateful for the laughs Shelbot has provided over the years - not to mention inspiring one of the most popular nicknames we hear when we ask our clients what they call their Beams - Shelbot.
Godspeed and great thanks to the cast and crew of The Big Bang Theory - and may the Force always be with you!