Once upon a time, bands that wanted percussion in their music needed a real live human to keep the beat. That all began to change with an inventor named Ismail al-Jazari. He wrote a book called The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices.
It describes 50 mechanical devices as well as instructions on how to build them. Al-Jazari was fascinated by automata, machines that operated on their own. One such machine outlined in this book was something built on a boat featuring four robot-like musicians, a flutist, a harpist, and two tambourine players, all of which were powered by moving water and a series of gears and axles.
When turned on the robots played a tune with a rhythm track. By making small adjustments, the rhythm could be changed. Al-Jazari had essentially invited the first-ever programmable drum machine.
This was in the year 1206. More next time.