The theme of ALIFE 2021 conference is ”Robots: The century past and the century ahead”, because we celebrate the centenary of Čapek's R.U.R. and the worldwide-used word “robot”, which comes from this play. The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Prague, the city where the play had its official world premiere in 1921. However, because of the covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions, ALIFE 2021 conference is virtual. Nevertheless, in this introductory paper the history of the R.U.R. play and its plot are briefly outlined and its legacy to current research discussed, namely in the context of the field of artificial life.