Joseph F. Engelberger, 90, who revolutionized assembly lines around the world by introducing the industrial robot, an innovation that he hoped would one day transform daily life for the elderly and the infirm, died Dec. 1 at his home in Newtown, Conn. The cause was Alzheimer's disease, said his daughter, Gay Engelberger.

Trained as a physicist, Mr. Engelberger became a business entrepreneur who was widely regarded as the "father of robotics."

He was working as an automation engineer in the 1950s when he met a tinkerer, George C. Devol, with a patent pending for a programmed article transfer, essentially a mechanized arm that could be instructed to move items from one place to another.

The two formed a partnership that led to the creation in 1961 of Unimation Inc. Mr. Engelberger was president and chief executive. The firm built the Unimate, a hydraulic machine that is considered the first industrial robot.

Mr. Engelberger's wife of more than 50 years, the former Marge Thomas, died in 2007. In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son and a grandson. - Washington Post