Reuben Lucius "Rube" Goldberg was born in 1883 with a keen interest in art, but he decided to heed his father's advice and pursue a degree in mining engineering at University of California at Berkeley. He continued to create cartoons, however, eventually landing a job as a cartoonist for the Hearst publication Evening Mail. Goldberg combined his engineering knowledge with his artistic skills, creating the elaborate machines that became his namesake. It's estimated that he drew over 50,000 cartoons in his lifetime. He is also the only person ever to be listed in the Webster dictionary as an adjective.
Goldberg's ideas live on in TV shows such as Pee Wee's Playhouse and movies, such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In 1987, Purdue University in Indiana started the annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, organized by the Phi Chapter of Theta Tau, a national engineering fraternity. Several similar competitions have been created since, and Rube Goldberg Machine artists still exist to this day. Learn more about Rube Goldberg machines, watch examples, and see how you can create your own machine in the videos below.