Jules Verne (1828–1905) was a French author, and one of the fathers of the science fiction genre. His detailed, practical depictions of futuristic machinery are the roots of the technophilic strain of SF that eventually gave us Transformers.
IDW Hearts of Steel continuity
While visiting San Francisco around the year 1867, Verne rode a chartered ferry with Mark Twain into the middle of San Francisco Bay to witness Tobias Muldoon's new invention, a "sub-marine" named S.S. Vicuna. However, a technical mishap plunged the Vicuna to the bottom of the bay, a misfortune that brought laughter from Verne, Twain, and the ferry's skipper.
A few years later, Verne published Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Coincidence? We think not.
In the real world, Jules Verne never visited San Francisco, and did not know Twain personally. Of course, the real world has no cool giant robots, either, so we'll take the fiction.