Rube Goldberg

Essay by toxic_poopJunior High, 9th gradeC+, June 2005

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A Rube Goldberg machine is any exceedingly complex apparatus designed to serve a specific function that performs a very simple task in a very indirect and convoluted way. Rube devised and drew several

such pataphysical devices. The best examples of his machines have an anticipation factor. The fact that something

so wacky is happening can only be topped by it happening in a suspenseful manner.

The term also applies as a classification for generally over-complicated apparatus or software. It first appeared

in Websters Third New International Dictionary with the definition, "accomplishing by extremely complex roundabout

means what actually or seemingly could be done simply." In Britain such a device would be called a Heath Robinson

contraption, after British cartoonist who also drew fantastic comic machinery, in his case tended by bespectacled men

in overalls. A related phenomenon is the Japanese art of useful but unusable contraptions called chindogu.

The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company released a board game called Mouse Trap in 1963 that was based on

Rube Goldberg's ideas.

(This game is currently being made by Hasbro.) Rube's machines are often featured on

television or in movies, too, for their ingenious nature and pure craziness. Sierra Entertainment released the computer

game The Incredible Machine on CD-ROM for either PC or Macintosh computers, designed around the Rube

Goldberg concept. Two other games in the series, Return of the Incredible Machine, and The Incredible Machine -

Even More Contraptions are no longer available.