Industrial-robot designer Norio Kodaira of Mitsubishi smiles proudly behind his Melfa EN, a robot arm that moves with incredible speed and dexterity to assemble pieces, drill holes, make chips, or just about any repetitive task that needs to be done quickly and precisely. Like many Japanese roboticists, Kodaira was inspired as a child by Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy), a popular Japanese cartoon about a futuristic robot boy who helps human beings (a 15-centimeter Astro Boy action figure). Astro Boy, drawn in the 1950's, will soon be the star of a major motion picture. In the story line, his birthdate is in April of 2003. Japan. From the book Robo sapiens: Evolution of a New Species, page 196.