In Asimov's chronologically earlier stories, like the ones in "I, Robot", the corporation 'U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men' was featured prominently. Yet in his chronologically later stories there's no mention of them.

Does Asimov give any indication of what happened to them? Were they absorbed by the government or what?

4 Answers 4


The preface for "Thou art Mindful of him" (and Bicentennial man), Asimov makes it clear that just a handful of years after the death of Susan Calvin, the time of 'US Robots and Mechanical Men' is coming to an end;

"Each of these two stories is post-Susan Calvin. They are the most recent long stories I have written about robots and in each one I try to take the long view and see what the ultimate end of robotics might be. And I come full circle-for though I adhere strictly to the Three Laws, the first story, "...That Thou Art Mindful of Him," is clearly a Robot-as-Menace story, while the second, "The Bicentennial Man," is even more clearly a Robot-as-Pathos story.

At the end of the story, we see that US Robotics is no longer in the business of making multi-function humanoid robots. Their primary concern is the manufacture of single-function robots shaped like animals.

Additionally they're happy for their company to become an arm of the 'Department of Global Conservation'. It's quite easy to imagine that within a few years they would cease to function as a commercial entity.

(edited for clarity and brevity)

"Although we do not anticipate the need, there is nothing inconceivable in the possibility of robo-bees designed to fertilize specific plants, or robo-earthworms designed to mix the soil. Whatever you wish-"

Eisenmuth said, with an edge of hostility, "You offer us this, do you, in exchange for permission to continue with your program of robots-I mean ordinary, man-shaped ones?"

"No!" Harriman gestured violently. "That is over. It has served its purpose. It has taught us enough about positronic brains to make it possible for us to cram enough pathways into a tiny brain to make a robo-bird. We can turn to such things now and be prosperous enough. U. S. Robots will supply the necessary knowledge and skill and we will work in complete cooperation with the Department of Global Conservation. We will prosper. You will prosper. Mankind will prosper."


US Robots is never mentioned again after the Susan Calvin stories. That's not so hard to believe when you know that there's more than a thousand years of separation between the last of the Susan Calvin stories and the first of the Elijah Bailey stories.


There isn't necessarily any continuity between his short stories involving Susan Calvin and US Robotics, and his later novels involving Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw.

Even if there is - the short stories are mostly set in the near future (less than one hundred years or so from writing). The later novels are much further into the future (no definite timeline, but the impression is more than a couple of hundred). It isn't impossible that USR have simply gone bankrupt (not many companies outside of financial institutions have lasted more than a century) - especially given the detail that robots are generally illegal on Earth.


Both his later stories "The Bicentennial Man" and "..That Thou Art Mindful of Him" give information about post-Susan Calvin US Robotics. I'm not sure they really can be reconciled, though.

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