Who is Rube Goldberg?
Reuben Garret Lucius Goldberg (1883 – 1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. He's best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complex devices performing simple tasks in convoluted ways - “Rube Goldberg machines.”
For example, one machine (featured on a U.S. commemorative stamp) showed that when a soup spoon was raised to your mouth it would pull a string, jerking a ladle which would throw a cracker past a parrot, which would jump off its perch upsetting seeds into a pail that in turn would pull a cord. The cord ignited an automatic cigar lighter which would set off a small skyrocket causing a sickle to cut through a string releasing a pendulum with a napkin attached which would swing back and forth wiping the user's chin. After-dinner entertainment was supplied by substituting a harmonica for the napkin.
These types of machines can be found in various films and cartoons such as Family Guy, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Back to the Future, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Games inspired by Rube Goldberg include Little Big Planet, Incredibots, and the once popular Mouse Trap. There are even several contests held around the world known as Rube Goldberg Contests that challenge high school students to build complex machines that perform simple tasks.