Bernard Smith, the creator of Robbie the Robot was a science school teacher, at Hawthorn Central School (now Hawthorn West Primary School) in the 1950s, and subsequently a teacher for over 20 years at Mordialloc-Chelsea High School (now Mordialloc College).
An enthusiastic inventor, Smith built Robbie the Robot in the 1950s to demonstrate mechanical devices to his students. Other mechanical inventions included small motorised ride-on cars built for his children and relatives to play on in his backyard, a noughts and crosses machine built using electronic valves, and an air humidifier and purifier for his home. He built a painting machine that randomly drew and selected colours, and entered one of its creations in the popular Herald Art Show.
Smith was a popular science teacher, famous for his weak jokes and puns. His students responded to his humour by presenting him with a cake when they claimed he had achieved his thousandth joke that year.