Rube Goldberg: The Man And His Zany Machines

By | July 18, 2019

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A typical Rube Goldberg machine, with levels, hammers, and rolling balls. Source: (

We know all about Rube Goldberg machines—those crazy, overly complicated contraptions designed to perform one simple task—but how much do we know about Rube Goldberg, the man? Did you know, for example, that he was a cartoonist, not a physicist? And did you know that he is the only person whose full name is listed in the dictionary as an adjective? How much do we really know about the man whose name is forever attached to the needlessly complicated, comic machines? Let's look at Rube Goldberg and his zany machines. 

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Rube Goldberg received an engineering degree from University of California, Berkeley. Source: (

Rube Goldberg, the Early Years

Born in San Francisco on Independence Day 1883, Reuben Goldberg always preferred his childhood nickname, Rube. He loved to draw as a young boy, but his parents discouraged it. They hope he would pursue more academic interests. Therefore, after he graduated from high school in 1900, he earned an engineering degree from UC Berkeley in 1904. He started his career as a civil engineer for the city of San Francisco, but he continued to draw as a hobby, honing his skills as an artist. After a short time, he quit his engineering job to work as a cartoonist and sports illustrator for a few local newspapers.