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"Conspiracy theories are big because they're comforting. Any conspiracy is infinitely less multiplex than the real deal, which is multiplex to the point of being unknowable."
- William Gibson

Waldo  
  A telefactoring device; also known as the Waldo F. Jones Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph.  

This story has been largely forgotten (even though it still makes great reading). The notion of a waldo, however, has not. The word itself has come into common usage; the American Heritage Dictionary describes it as follows: "A mechanical agent, such as a gripper arm, controlled by a human limb." Real-life waldoes were developed for the nuclear industry during WWII; they were named after the invention described by Heinlein.

This technology is known today by the more generic term "telefactoring"; it is used in a variety of industries.

‘Very well, friend Alec - the gloves.’

Jenkins thrust his arms into the waldoes and waited. Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him; all three pairs, including the secondary pair mounted before the machine, came to life. Jenkins bit his lip, as if he found unpleasant the sensation of having his fingers manipulated by the gauntlets he wore.

Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.

From Waldo, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1942
Additional resources -

Heinlein shows his creativity by giving his character a problem (myasthenia gravis - degenerative muscle weakness) and then literally giving him the tool to solve it. You'll also enjoy his laboratory (in orbit, of course, to give Waldo maximum mobility).

A pantograph is a device with a simple physical connection between a pointer and a drawing pen on a piece of paper. Altering the linkage between the pointer and the pen alters the scale of the drawing. The pantograph dates from 1630. Thomas Jefferson liked them; he built one into Monticello.

In Oath of Fealty, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, telefactor operators who all live in the same arcology assist in a variety of tasks around the globe (and on the moon). At one point, they go on strike; a case of acting locally and globally.

Compare to iron fingers from The Death's Head Meteor (1931) by Neil R. Jones.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Waldo
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Waldo
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Waldo-related news articles:
  - Tmsuk T52 Enryu Support Dragon Hyper Rescue Robot
  - Robonaut Performs Hubble Space Telescope Repair Tasks
  - Robonaut Centaur At NextFest 2006
  - Heinlein's Giant Waldo Comes To Life
  - Mediseus Surgical Drilling Simuator Remote Haptic Tutor
  - Be Master To Robot Slave
  - RAPUD Robotic Arm Helps Disabled Reach
  - Giant Robotic Hand Video
  - WIND Wearable Robot Controller
  - PossessedHand Borgs Your Hands To Teach You
  - Raytheon Sarcos Exoskeletonized Ditch Witch
  - Festo ExoHand Fine Motor Skill Robotic Hand
  - Calligraphy Robot Preserves An Ancient Skill
  - CAPIO Exoskeleton Controls AILA Robot
  - Smart Glove Controls 3D Printed Robotic Arm (Waldo!)
  - Jeff Bezos Tries Waldoes (Robotic Hands)
  - Ingenious Engineer Creates DIY Feeding Robot

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Giant Telescope Lenses Made In Space

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