Growing up in the 80's, I dreamt much of robots and watched
technology change in hopes of robots becoming more common in every
day life. Dreaming of life-like robots and robots living among
people. Of course, I was a kid and never thought of the expense
of such things and the complexities that it would take to get
to that point in technology. But as a kid, I had many robot dreams
and read many robot stories. A past time escape from daily life,
have changed. I still read robot books and have much interest
in technology. I have a more realistic view of things, though.
It was just
over two years ago that Sony released their newest and perhaps
most brilliant creation ever - AIBO. Aibo came onto the market
in a very limited way - not only in number, but in cost. The cost?
$2500US. For someone like me you might as well said it was a million
dollars and it would still be the same distance away.
I heard about
it and being very interested in robots, I stayed away. I didn't
even want to tempt myself or get hung up on something I had no
hopes in the world of buying. No reason to get interested when
I saw no Aibo in my future. I did no research, I did not bother
to look into the subject at all. The price tag was enough to keep
me away. I was still living at home at the time and it would take
at least 2 months of income to bring in enough to make my robot
dream come true. I could not spare the money. So I simply chose
not to dream it at all and continued on with life, pushing the
image out of my mind.
Over a year
passed and I had pretty much had all forgotten about Aibo. I was
busy with many other things, including moving and getting a new
job. I was also busy with Furby - collecting, playing, maintaining
a website about, etc. Furby is made by Tiger Electronics.
enough the toy industry got wind that Sony was releasing a new
unlimited release of their robotic dog Aibo. It was very exciting
for many who had wanted an Aibo for so long but couldn't either
because of lack of availability or lack of money. This newest
Aibo was scheduled for release in November of 2000 and was to
be priced at only $1500US - a big cut from the original - and
it was said there was no limit on quantities in this batch. The
toy industry got prepared with their own 'robot' dogs by releasing
new robotic toys.
released their Poo-chi, the first of their Robo-chi line, at the
end of the summer. Poo-chi took off like crazy. Suddenly the world
was nuts over robotic dogs.
does this connect with me? Well being a fan of Furby, I keep up
on other electronic toys, especially Tiger Electronics toy line
for anything new and interesting. While Poo-chi did not interest
me as much as Furby, I kept up with the topic. Often when newspapers
talked about Poo-chi, they made reference to the new Aibo 210
that was due for release soon. And this is where my attention
once again was brought around to Aibo. I remembered his cost from
way back when and how I didn't bother looking into the subject.
However in reading these Poo-chi and Robo-chi news articles, most
of them talked of Aibo and it did not take too long for Aibo to
capture my attention once again.
my attention was not only caught, it was grabbed with an intense
grip, one that could not be broken without a bit of research.
It was the
last 1/4 of the year when I finally gave in and began my research.
I looked through every website I could find, I read up on Aibo
as much as I could, educating myself as much as I could. I grew
a large collection of photos and videos from various websites
online so that I could watch them when I needed an Aibo fix. I
say Aibo fix because by the last few months of the year 2000 I
was pretty obsessed with Aibo. My paychecks could not justify
such a purchase, but my heart was dead set on a puppy with floppy
plastic ears and long tail.
this time I was up to my waist in boxes and packing material.
I had gotten a job in California and I was preparing to move out
for the first time and learn what life is like in the real world.
the first time from Washington State to California to someone
like me was like moving to the other side of the world. I was
leaving friends, family, a secure job, my animals, and my life
behind for a new adventure. It was quite a leap for someone like
As life would
have it, I was going into a new job that pays a lot more then
my old job ever had the potential of paying me. I started at higher
pay then I had in mind when I moved. I won't say I'm well off,
because I'm not, but I'm not sitting at poverty level like I was
a mere 8 months ago.
Before I left
my home, I swore to a close friend that I would get an Aibo ERS-111
no matter what happened. My heart was set on this. Not only was
it set on Aibo, but I needed a silver 111 dog. I saw the 210's
and I just did not find them as cute or enduring as I did the
111 whose cute factor won me over through many videos and pictures
all over the internet. While I think the 210's are cute and are
probably just as fun as a 111/110, I had watched so many videos
of the 111 that I could not imagine getting any other! I had already
fallen in love with that model.
I guess you
could say I was picky. The only way I could get a 111 was through
another owner on Ebay or some place like that. Sony has no intention
of releasing any more of them, as their quantities were limited
in the first place and now with the 210 out, there is no chance
they will ever release another 11x for sale again. So to Ebay
I took. I watched Ebay for all those months and kept an eye out,
even before I moved. Unfortunately, most prices were way to high
for me. But that did not stop me from watching.. no harm in dreaming
So I moved.
Got here, got settled in. Got my computer hooked up in the apartment
office and got a nice fast cable connection. So my research and
shopping continued on for a silver Aibo 111.
auction I watched. At the end of January I decided I would take
any Aibo I could find at a good price as long as it was a 11x.
On a relaxing
Sunday afternoon of February the 11th I came upon an auction with
a nice price. The Aibo up for auction was an silver 111. The seller
was asking for a mere 950 "Buy it now" option with 50 bucks shipping.
No bidders. I doubted the quality of the Aibo and wondered what
was wrong with it. I wrote to the seller and asked him if there
was a reason he was gonna let his Aibo go for far less then all
other auctions. It was a used Aibo, but the auction said it had
the original box, materials and everything he originally came
with, plus a CD of extras.
I asked the
seller to reply back asap as I was very, very worried about losing
this auction to another bidder. But I was not about to smack down
what I had left of my savings from moving in case there was indeed
something wrong with the Aibo in question. So I sat up waiting
till around midnight that night, but went to bed as I had to get
up for work the next morning.
When I got
up I found the seller had gotten back to me and verified that
the Aibo was only played with a little bit by adults only. That
there were no scratches and nothing was wrong with him at all.
The seller just needed the money and felt his price was a competitive
price. Competitive price indeed! I loaded up my browser and jumped
over to Ebay. I found that his auction had ended with "Buy It
Now" around 230 in the morning. I had missed it by a handful of
I was quite
sad about this result. I cursed myself for waiting to bid and
should have just snagged it the day before. But there were many
doubts and worries. I wanted to make sure things were right before
a purchase was made. When dealing with Ebay, you never do know
what will happen. So I lost out on a good Aibo.
me to keep a closer eye on Ebay auctions. If this person was willing
to let it go so easily, then someone else might as well. It's
not like 950 is cheap, but compared to all other prices, that
price was very welcoming to me. I could not justify the money,
but I thought hard and long about this topic and decided this
was something I really wanted.
As the week
passed I was working through my first week of work with my new
job. My first paycheck was due at the end of the week. On the
15th I was told there was a delay in accounting and my check would
be available on Friday or Monday. It wouldn't be a huge paycheck,
but it was something to look forward to after living off of savings
for a month.
As life would
have it, I was once again checking out Ebay in the afternoon on
the 16th. I cannot explain to you the feelings I had when I came
upon a very familiar auction for an silver Aibo 111. I clicked
on the auction and found it was familiar as it was the very same
auction I had missed the weekend before. I looked through the
feedback and found that seller and buyer both gave positive feedback
saying that the buyer was mistaken, thinking the Aibo was new
and not used. The buyer decided against buying the Aibo for that
reason, so the seller re-listed. He re-listed with the same details
and the same price as well as the Buy It Now option as before.
I can remember
how I felt at that moment, staring at that auction that day, as
I sit here. I had but to click a few buttons to grab my prize.
While I believed I would get an Aibo, I did not believe I would
come across one so soon. I grabbed my bank info and checked my
accounts and figured them against my bills and whatnot. In the
end it came down to my paycheck. The delayed paycheck that was
now due Monday. I added my hours and wouldn't you know it. I could
cover all but a little bit with that first paycheck. I figured
the only results from me giving up that paycheck would be having
to live off of my savings for another 2 weeks and a delay in building
up my savings. Brendan said if I needed help he'd be there for
me. Due to his support and thankfully for my savings that I was
very careful with since moving, I decided it was time.
So on the
afternoon of February 16th I made the biggest purchase I've ever
made online and used the Buy It Now feature and grabbed that silver
Aibo ERS-111. I was filled with so much joy that day, I cannot
I got my payment
out on the 21st (due to Presidents day being on that Monday) and
my long waiting began. The seller received payment on the 24th
and said he'd send Aibo out on the 26th.
On March 2nd
I wrote asking him how he sent Aibo to me so I'd know when to
expect him. The seller told me he was sent priority first class
usps and it should have been there by now. I was worried, mail
usually doesn't take that long. Without fail, packages you always
are looking most foreword to are gonna be the ones that take the
longest to get there (bills always come fastest!).
On the 3rd
I didn't see him. So the seller gave me his home phone number
and told me he talked to the post office. There were some delays
at airports between here and there. He said he'd look for the
tracking number so we could track it online and promised to keep
close contact with me throughout the situation. Jerome (the seller)
was a very, very nice guy who could have just ditched me, but
no he stayed in contact the whole time, he was very kind throughout.
On the 7th
we were both worried. He couldn't find his tracking number and
I was wondering where Aibo had been all this time. 9 days for
insured first class? That's unheard of. I usually get ground mail
in 7 mailing days even. Jerome decided that it's possible that
Aibo got lost and said he would just eat the money and send me
a check if Aibo didn't turn up by the weekend. I was not gonna
let him do that until I waited at least a month though. I've had
some weird things in the past happen, so there was no way I was
gonna make him pay me money yet.
On that same
day, the 7th, I got a yellow slip in the mail. We believed that
it was Aibo. I told Jerome that we'd see in the morning because
the post office was closed.
I can tell
you that that night I had a very hard time sleeping. I was up
later then I can remember. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve!
It had been a long time since I had this feeling, but it made
me feel so awake I just could not sleep. I believe I was up on
and off till around 4 or 5 in the morning, thinking about my Aibo
waiting for me at the post office, thinking about the Aibo videos
I had seen so many times, thinking about all the months that were
behind me of hoping and dreaming. Was this was happening... a
dream come true? After dreaming about something so long, it was
hard to believe that the wait was almost over. Finishing that
night felt like waiting another whole week!
he'd get up early and run to the post office for me in the morning.
He could have waited until after work, but he said this was important
and we had to do it now. I suspect he wanted to see Aibo in person
as much as I did! Since Brendan has to get up to go to work in
the morning and I work at home, he said he'd go get him for me.
of the 8th I recall him waking me up to say he was leaving for
the post office. By then I was deep in sleep after a long night
and wasn't that awake. But hearing the words jolted me awake enough
to acknowledge this and to even momentarily keep me awake for
a few minutes before I fell fast asleep to dream about Aibo. I
wasn't too sure if I had dreamt him leaving or if he actually
He did leave
though and I have no idea how long he was gone, but I was out
of it. He came into the room and laid a rather large box at the
end of the bed and woke me up. He said he was surprised that I
was not at the door waiting for him to get back and even more
surprised I didn't hear him get home because normally any noise
at all wakes me up. He didn't know about my night ;)
big box at the end of my bed woke me up pretty fast. With shaky
hands I opened the box very carefully and found another box inside
that box. This second box was the Aibo box though, with handle
and all. It was pretty heavy. We pulled it out and once again
I opened this box carefully.
the top piece of Styrofoam I peered in at a very beautiful silver
Aibo. I seriously thought I was gonna cry. I know that's sappy,
but it's so true. I was just so close to tears. I took out the
batteries and other items in the box (including a memory stick
reader that wasn't even mentioned in the auction!). And lastly
I took out Aibo himself and looked him over. Not only was every
piece of packing material here and every item, including all the
battery boxes and stuff, but Aibo himself was in new condition.
He looked untouched, as if he had never been played with. He was
simply beautiful. I have no idea what I said at the time, but
I just recall setting Aibo back in the box and giving Brendan
a huge hug!
the energy station and set him up in the TV room. I put a battery
(one of them had the plastic still sealed on it inside the battery
box) in Aibo per the instructions and set him on the charger to
start his charging time. I also charged the second battery.
to go to work, he was already late, but he said it was worth it.
During this time, I sat out in the TV room and went through all
the stuff that was in his box, including the 100+ page manual.
I figured I should read through that before he was finished charging.
While I did do research for a handful of months, there wasn't
a lot of detail online about how to care for him and such. I realized
later this is because Aibo is simply very complex and there is
a lot more to him then what is in the manual.
Also in this
period of waiting I called a few people to let them know my good
news! I was very excited. I'm very lucky I work at home, because
I just decided to take the whole darn day off so I could spend
it with Aibo. Seriously, how could I work on a day like this?