You flip a fan on, and the air blows a tiny toy sailboat till it hits a domino, inflicting a series response as a whole lot of dominoes are knocked down. Because the final domino falls, it pushes a lever that triggers a pointy blade to swing, cracking an egg onto a griddle. An excessively elaborate contraption that accomplishes a easy activity—on this case, cooking an egg—is an instance of a Rube Goldberg Machine.
It is named for inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and though you’ve probably seen humorous sequences impressed by Goldberg’s machines in movies, TV reveals, music movies, and comics, you in all probability don’t know a lot about his life. In honor of what can be his 135th birthday, listed here are 12 ingenious details about Goldberg.
1. HE EARNED AN ENGINEERING DEGREE FROM UC BERKELEY…
Born in San Francisco on July 4, 1883, Goldberg loved drawing as a baby and took artwork classes from an indication painter. After learning engineering at UC Berkeley, he graduated in 1904 and mapped sewer pipes and water mains for town of San Francisco. “I studied engineering as a result of my father thought that every one cartoonists have been, you already know, good-for-nothing, Bohemians, and could not make a dwelling drawing footage,” Goldberg revealed in a 1970 interview with Radio Smithsonian.
2. …BUT QUIT HIS JOB TO BECOME A CARTOONIST.
After simply six months of labor, Goldberg knew that engineering wasn’t the fitting match for him. So he labored as a sports activities cartoonist on the San Francisco Chronicle earlier than shifting to New York Metropolis to be a cartoonist at The New York Night Mail. Among the comedian strips and single-frame cartoons he created had names like “Boob McNutt,” “Lala Palooza,” and “Silly Questions.” As a result of his cartoons have been nationally syndicated, he turned well-known and was terribly nicely paid.
Within the mid 1910s, he began illustrating advanced contraptions, together with a machine that routinely lowered a fats man’s weight and a sanitary technique to lick a postage stamp. Between 1929 and 1931, he drew his absurd machine innovations for a collection referred to as “The Innovations of Professor Lucifer G. Butts,” which was impressed by his experiences in faculty engineering lessons.
3. ONE OF HIS POLITICAL CARTOONS WON A PULITZER PRIZE.
In 1948, he received a Pulitzer Prize for a political cartoon referred to as “Peace Today,” during which he depicted the precarious stability between world management and destruction as a result of atomic bomb. In a separate political cartoon (proven above), he drew a Rube Goldberg Machine to criticize President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s technique to repair the financial system by creating a number of governmental companies.
4. BECAUSE OF HATE MAIL HE RECEIVED, GOLDBERG CHANGED THE LAST NAMES OF HIS CHILDREN.
Goldberg and his spouse, Irma Seeman, had two sons, George and Thomas Goldberg. Throughout World Conflict II, Goldberg, who was Jewish, was publishing a very good quantity of political satire; he started receiving massive quantities of hate mail, which included quite a few loss of life threats. To safeguard his sons, Goldberg determined to vary their final names. When Thomas, his older son, selected the final title “George,” Goldberg’s youthful son, George, determined to choose the same surname in order that the brothers would have a cohesive household title. Thus, Goldberg’s sons turned often known as Thomas George and George W. George.
5. HE WROTE A FILM FOR THE THREE STOOGES BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS.
Twentieth Century Fox employed Goldberg to put in writing a script for a function movie involving his advanced machines. After writing in Hollywood for 3 months, the movie got here out in 1930. Known as Soup To Nuts, the movie wasn’t massively profitable, nevertheless it starred a pre-fame Three Stooges. Earlier than they have been Moe, Larry, and Curly, the vaudeville group consisted of 4 males who referred to as themselves Ted Healy and his Stooges. Moreover Healy and his Stooges, Soup To Nuts featured machines similar to an anti-burglar gadget and a self-tipping hat.
6. HE WENT TO JAIL FOR REFEREEING A FIGHT IN HARLEM.
Goldberg admitted that he went to jail as soon as, throughout his early years as a cartoonist for The New York Night Mail. Whereas overlaying fights for the newspaper, one other sports activities author would often earn more money refereeing the (unlawful) fights. Goldberg accompanied him to cover a fight in Harlem and ended up retaining time since he was the one particular person there with a stopwatch. Earlier than lengthy, cops raided the struggle and arrested Goldberg for being the timekeeper. An older fighter from the ring paid Goldberg’s $500 bond.
7. HIS NAME IS AN ADJECTIVE IN THE DICTIONARY.
In 1931, Merriam-Webster immortalized Goldberg by placing his title within the dictionary. In response to Merriam-Webster, Rube Goldberg is an adjective that means “doing one thing easy in a really sophisticated manner that isn’t crucial.” Talking about his surprising fame, the cartoonist later mentioned: “I integrated these [chain reaction machine inventions] in my common cartoons and, for some motive or different, they have been taken up. They stood out and I am typed as an inventor; I am a loopy inventor … and my title is within the dictionary and I am more than happy.” In response to Goldberg’s official website, he’s the one particular person in historical past to be listed as an adjective in Merriam-Webster (as simply the title alone, versus namesake adjectives like, say, Shakespearean or Machiavellian).
8. AT 80 YEARS OLD, HE BECAME A SCULPTOR.
Most individuals don’t start solely new careers of their 80s, however Goldberg determined to take up sculpture. “I simply purchased some clay, and a few sticks, instruments and all, and I did not know you had to make use of an armature [a wire frame around which sculptors build the clay],” he instructed Radio Smithsonian. He seen sculpting as a pure continuation of his engineering and cartooning work, and he even acquired commissions for his work. Goldberg molded busts of politicians, authors, and buddies, and he had reveals of his work in New York and California. In 1970, the Smithsonian’s Museum of Historical past and Expertise featured an exhibition of his profession; Goldberg died in December of that yr at age 87.
9. THE REUBEN AWARD FOR CARTOONISTS IS NAMED AFTER HIM.
Musicians have Grammy Awards, actors have Oscars, and cartoonists have Reubens. Since 1954, the Nationwide Cartoonists Society has awarded the Reuben Award for Excellent Cartoonist of the 12 months to a high cartoonist. Named after Goldberg, whose full title was Reuben Garret Lucius Goldberg, the award itself is a statue primarily based on one in every of his sculptures. He later joked that the trophy appeared grotesque, and though the award is known as after him, it took him 22 years to win one himself.
10. HE GOT HIS OWN U.S. POSTAGE STAMP.
Goldberg’s black and white cartoon of a person utilizing a self-operating serviette turned a U.S. postage stamp in 1995. The colorized stamp reveals the steps concerned within the contraption: the person raises a spoon to his mouth, and a serviette wipes his mouth after a collection of steps involving a string, ladle, cracker, parrot, seeds, cup, twine, clock lighter, and sickle.
11. EACH YEAR, TEAMS COMPETE IN RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE CONTESTS.
Since 1988, groups of scholars have competed every year in Rube Goldberg Machine Contests to construct machines that evoke the spirit of Goldberg. Groups compete for prizes similar to Greatest Design and Funniest Step (one step being a switch from one motion to a different). Prior winners have constructed elaborate contraptions to zip a zipper, water a plant, erase a chalkboard, and open an umbrella.
12. YOU CAN USE AN APP TO CREATE A DIGITAL RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE.
To strive your hand at creating your individual (digital) Rube Goldberg machine, obtain the Rube Works app in your cellphone. Because the first officially licensed Goldberg sport, Rube Works permits gamers to construct machines to attain easy targets, similar to getting a glass of orange juice. The sport incorporates puzzles, illustrations, physics, and logic, difficult gamers to construct practical machines to get to the subsequent stage.
13. HIS FAMILY MEMBERS CONTINUE HIS LEGACY.
Within the late 1980s, one in every of Goldberg’s sons began Rube Goldberg, Inc. (RGI), an organization that retains the cartoonist’s legacy alive by way of licensing and merchandising. RGI additionally hosts Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, created the official Rube Works app, and promotes science, know-how, engineering, arts, and arithmetic schooling. Right this moment, Jennifer George, Rube’s granddaughter, serves as the corporate’s legacy director and not too long ago published a guide on his work.