Let me start with a little disclaimer on this one, I am
writing most of this from memory. I did check
Wikipedia but that did not gave me hard facts.
In the eighties I had several types of construction toys:
LEGO, Meccano and Fischer Technic. Because of the wide range
of possibilities the only toy to survive was LEGO.
The early LEGO technic sets where great but they lacked a lot
of components we take for granted today. Some examples of these
are the worm screw gear and the pneumatic cylinder.
These are the parts we need! But wait a minute... where did
I see those parts before? Maybe some came in a set like this one
(this is a modern version):
While the LEGO robot world was still living in the stone
age the Fischer Technic guys where building stuff like this:
I think the LEGO people where "inspired" by the
Fischer Technic parts...