Prototype "Butler In A Box"

Description (Brief)
This is the prototype "Butler In A Box", an electronic home controller system created in 1983 by professional magician Gus Searcy and computer programmer Franz Kavan. The idea was to couple emerging computer technology with novel wireless devices and make a product that could control a variety of electrical devices in a home. Searcy reportedly conceived the idea after friends asked him why, if he could pull rabbits from hats, couldn’t he just tell lights to come on instead of physically operating a switch. Soon thereafter, Searcy and Kavan developed “Sidney,” an electronic controller to do that and more.
Currently not on view
Object Name
answering machine component
electronic home controller
date made
Mastervoice, Incorporated
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 3.5 cm x 19 cm x 25 cm; 1 3/8 in x 7 1/2 in x 9 13/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Magnetic Recording
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Magnetic Recording
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Gus Searcy
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

1/25/2015 7:14:19 PM
Faye Rive
Can you tell me please when the last of these were marketed. How long from the 1983 inception did these remain on the market?
8/12/2015 9:14:23 AM
Hal Wallace
Unfortunately, Faye, I've been unable to find an answer to your question. Our last contact with the donor was in 1992. Mastervoice Inc., was still in business in 1993 but I can't say how long they remained in business or when the last Butler In A Box was sold.
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