Ángela Ruiz Robles

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Ángela Ruiz Robles
Ángela Ruiz Robles (MUNCYT, Eulogia Merle).jpg
Personal details
Ángela Ruiz Robles

March 28, 1895
Villamanín, Leon
DiedOctober 27, 1975
Ferrol, A Coruña
ParentsElena Robles
Feliciano Ruiz
OccupationTeacher, Inventor

Ángela Ruiz Robles (March 28, 1895 Villamanín, Leon - October 27, 1975, Ferrol, A Coruña) was a Spanish teacher, writer, pioneer and inventor of the mechanical precursor to the electronic book. In 1949, Ruiz was awarded Spanish patent 190,698 for the "Mechanical Encyclopedia" (Spanish: la Enciclopedia Mecánica).[1]

Ruiz Robles wanted to lighten the weight of the books carried by her students, so she devised a device consisting of a series of text and illustrations on reels, all under a sheet of magnifying glass with a light for reading in the dark, and was to incorporate spoken descriptions of each topic. Her device was never put into production but a prototype is in display at the National Museum of Science and Technology in A Coruña.[2]


Ángela Ruiz Robles war born on March 28, 1895 in Villamanín, Leon, as the daughter of Feliciano Ruiz, a pharmacist and Elena Robles, a housewife. She was trained to be a be teacher and started her professional career in the capital of the province as an instructor of stenography, typing and commercial accounting between 1915 and 1916.

In 1918 she moved to Santa Uxía de Mandiá, a small village close to Ferrol, Galicia, where she serve as a teacher until 1928. In 1934 she carried out an important work as manager of the National Girls School Orphanage in Ferrol.[3]

In 1948 she started to work as a teacher at the Ibañez Martín School, became director in 1959 and stayed in the position until her retirement.[4]

Works and legacy[edit]

Between 1938 and 1946 Ruiz Robles published 16 books to help children study.[3]

In 1944, Ángela Ruiz Robles carried out the project of the Grammatical Scientific Atlas to help expand the knowledge on grammar, syntax, morphology, orthography and phonetics across the country. She later designed and improved a tachymecanographic machine.

In 1948 she patented the first proposal for the Mechanical Encyclopaedia (Spanish patent number 190,698[5]). A prototype was built in 1962. However, the invention never reached the public since it was not possible for her to find the appropriate funding.[1] From 2012 it is shown in the National Museum of Science and Technology in A Coruña, Spain.

Mechanical Encyclopaedia[edit]

The following is a translated description of the device:[6]

'When opened, it consists of two parts. On the left there is a series of automatic alphabets, in any language: slight pressure on a button displays the required letters, making words, sentences, a lesson or a topic, and all manner of writings. In the upper right-hand part of the alphabets is a coil with all manner of line drawings, and on the left there is another coil with ornamental and figure drawings. In the lower part of the alphabets there is a plastic sheet for writing, editing or drawing. On the inside there is a box where subjects can be stored. The subjects are stored in the right-hand part, passing beneath a transparent, unbreakable sheet; these can be enlarged, and the books can be illuminated so that they can still be read if there is otherwise no light. The right-hand and left-hand sides of the section the materials pass through contain two coils in which the books the user wants to read in any language are placed; moving these allows all the topics to pass by, stopping as and when the user wishes, or to be collected. The coils are automatic and can be moved from the box and expanded, so that the whole subject remains visible. The device may be placed either on a table (like an ordinary book) or perpendicular to it, which is handy for the user, since it eliminates a great deal of mental and physical effort. All the components are replaceable. When closed, it is the same size as an ordinary book, and easy to handle. For authors and publishers it greatly reduces production costs, for it does not require either paste or binding, and can be printed either in a single print run, or section by section (if there are several) – a procedure of value to all.'

Awards and honours[edit]

  • The Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise to recognise her social work and innovation in training along professional career (1947).
  • The Oscar for invention at the Official and National Fair of Zaragoza (1957).
  • The Bronze Medal at the International Exhibition in Brussels (1957).
  • The Bronze Medal for educational innovation in Brussels (1958).
  • The Silver Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Brussels (1963).
  • Medal at the Seville Exhibition (1964).
  • Geneva Medal for Spanish inventors (1968).[7]

She appears in the 2011 Spanish publication 200 Years of Patents in the "Women" section, published by the Spanish Ministry of Industry.[8]

Ruiz Robles’s 121st birthday was the subject of a Google Doodle on March 28, 2016.[9]

In 2018, a street was named after her in the Spanish capital to recognise and celebrate her contributions.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Angela Ruiz Robles – Biography, History and Inventions". history-computer.com. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  2. ^ Lallanilla, Marc. "Is This 1949 Device the World's First E-Reader?". Live Science. Archived from the original on 23 August 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "ÁngelaRuízRobles - Mestra exemplar, escritora e inventora no eido da didáctica". culturagalega.gal. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  4. ^ "Biography of Angela Ruiz Spanish inventor scientist". Salient Women. 2020-06-01. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  5. ^ a b "Madrid names street after female inventor of mechanical 'ebook'". the Guardian. 2018-02-25. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  6. ^ Gaceta de la Actualidad Técnica. Year II, No. 14, September 1955
  7. ^ "Ángela Ruiz Robles (1895-1975) | Ciencia y más". Mujeres con ciencia (in Spanish). 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  8. ^ OFICINA ESPAÑOLA DE PATENTES Y MARCAS Spanish Ministry of Industry, 2011
  9. ^ Angela Ruiz Robles's 121st Birthday Google, 2018