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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Ultramicrominiature Waldo  
  A device for transforming ordinary human hand movements into extremely small-scale surgical motions.  

I am even a gene surgeon now, in theory, and would not hesitate to be one in practice once I had time to construct the ultramicrominiature waldoes needed for such fine work. I am equally expert as obstetrician and gynecologist and rejuvenator.
From Time Enough For Love, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Putnam in 1973
Additional resources -

Although this was published relatively late in Heinlein's career, he wrote about this basic idea much earlier. In his original 1940 story Waldo, he described "tiny pixie hands" (waldoes) used for very fine work.

As far as I know, however, the idea of micro-surgery was first named and described by Raymond Z. Gallun in his 1939 short story Masson's Secret; see the entry for microsurgery tool.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Time Enough For Love
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  Tech news articles related to Time Enough For Love
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