Next, Harald put
his engineering studies (and his desire to excel) into the
service of table tennis. He came up with the idea of designing
an automatic table tennis robot, which would make it possible to
practice his strokes without a partner and without time limits.
After one year of
work the prototype of the robot (including a motor of a
sewing-machine and a transformer of a model railway) was ready
for training. Soon, Harald's colleagues at the local club saw a
big improvement in his play. When the club players learned the
improvement was coming from Harald's practice with a robot he
had created, they wanted the same opportunity to improve their
own table tennis techniques. It was not long before other clubs
heard about this, and they too were interested in the advantages
the new table tennis robot could bring to their training.
As a result the
company H.Merkt Apparatebau was established on August 1, 1974,
in Horb am Neckar, near Stuttgart, to make robot training
available to table tennis enthusiasts generally. With simple
advertising media, fair visits and uncounted live
demonstrations, the robots became known outside of Germany. By
1976 the new training machines were being delivered to table
tennis players in many other European countries.
robots are exported to 80 countries all around the globe.