Do you need to change a flat tire? Perhaps wipe your mouth without using your hands? Are you one of those people who likes to make simple tasks as complicated as possible? Then you should thank Rube Goldberg for coming to your rescue.
Born in San Francisco in 1883, America’s most inventive illustrator started his illustrious career as an engineer with the San Francisco Water and Sewer Department, but it wasn’t long before he moved to New York and became the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and artist of enduring fame.
One of his most illustrious characters, Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, invented elaborate machines to accomplish mundane tasks in extraordinarily complex ways. As Goldberg wrote in his unpublished memoir, “Instead of using the scientific elements of the laboratory, I added acrobatic monkeys, dancing mice, chattering false teeth, electric eels, whirling dervishes and other incongruous elements.”
Not only is Rube Goldberg the crazy uncle we all wish we had, he’s also, officially, an adjective.
Watch this famous Jack Benny interview with Rube Goldberg from 1937: