Rube Goldberg Machines: Making the Simple, Complicated
Article by Marc, filed under Gadgets & Geekery in the Technology category.

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who loved to draw incredibly complicated machines designed to complete wonderfully simple tasks. Incarnations of Rube Goldberg machines have been featured in films, commercials, and competitions, because of their mesmerizing and entertaining function. Here are 10 examples of Rube Goldberg’s enduring oddball legacy:

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Honda’s take on the Rube Goldberg machine using only parts found in their car has become an incredibly acclaimed commercial. It’s about as simple as they come, but still incredibly entertaining.

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Anything can have a videogame theme, so why would Rube Goldberg machines be an exception? These colorful creations were designed with nostalgic gamers in mind, and heavily feature early Nintendo favorites in three dimensional glory.

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The board game Mouse Trap is probably the most well known Rube Goldberg machine, which isn’t surprising, considering it’s been entertaining children since it was first produced in 1963, and is still being widely sold in stores today. Real life incarnations have been created at makers fairs and Burning Man.

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The band OK Go has become notorious for having intricate and entertaining music videos. They’ve been featured doing complex choreography involving several treadmills for their song “Here It Goes Again”, stop motion filming for “End Love”, and a wonderfully intricate Rube Goldberg video for “This Too Shall Pass”.

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The variety of Rube Goldberg machines are entertaining, especially how complicated they can become when they’re simply placed against a flat board. The sprawling, room spanning ones tend to be the most interesting, especially as this is where most of the DIY machine creation tends to concentrate.

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Manypeople utilize computer environments with already designed physics engines to create their own machines without having them dominate their living rooms. The computer game Half Life has a sandbox that has spawned an incredible number of machines utilizing objects found within the game.

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Rube Goldberg’s original cartoons were quite popular when they were first published, and his inventiveness led these machines to be featured in everything from car commercials to the film “Back to the Future”. The popularity of these machines doesn’t seem to be fading.

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Purdue holds an annual Rube Goldberg machine competition, where college students from around the country compete to create the most consistently functional, complicated, and entertaining piece of hardware to complete a specific task. Purdue came in first in the 2007 competition by creating a machine that could assemble a pre-cooked hamburger with bun, and several condiments.

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Rube Goldberg art is decently popular, though I have a feeling most people are less in favor of the cartoon and sculpted versions now that so many working options are available for viewing.

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