Frank Reade was the protagonist of a series of dime novels published primarily for boys. The first novel, Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, an imitation of Edward Ellis's The Steam Man of the Prairies (1868), was written by Harry Enton and serialized in the Frank Tousey juvenile magazine Boys of New York, February 28 through April 24, 1876. The four Frank Reade stories concerned adventures with the character's inventions, various robot-like mechanisms powered by steam.
A very long series of juvenile novels followed which featured the son of Frank Reade, Frank Reade Jr., as its teenaged inventor-hero. These stories were written by Luis P. Senarens (1865-1939) with the pseudonym Noname. Extremely popular during their time, they were often reprinted and new stories have been created as recently as 2011, in the pulp short story collection, Wildthyme in Purple.
Frank Reade Jr. inventions included airships of the dirigible-balloon and helicopter type, submersibles, steam-driven and electrical land vehicles, and steam-powered robots.
The Frank Reade stories are perhaps the best known of the many boys' invention fiction series published in America during the later 19th century. Frank Reade Jr. has appeared as an older man in Alan Moore's Nemo: Heart of Ice, and the Reade family as a whole has also been featured in Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett's Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention. (source: wikipedia.org)