Bite-sized knowledge for the hungrily curious

Who was Rube Goldberg?

rube goldberg flickr photo by cdrummbks shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The Answer

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist popular in the early 20th century for drawing complex contraptions in his comic strips, including those with featuring character Professor Lucifer Gorganzola Butts.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine – one that involves an overly complicated series of steps to accomplish a task. However, you might not know who Rube Goldberg was or why his name is synonymous with this kind of contraption.

Rueben (Rube) Goldberg was born in San Francisco in 1883 (d. 1970). He earned a degree in mining engineering from UC Berkeley before later becoming an award-winning and prolific cartoonist.

He initially began his career designing sewer pipes in San Francisco, but quickly switched to a job as a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bulletin. Later he moved to the New York Evening Mail, where he created some of his most famous cartoons, ultimately winning him a Pulitzer Prize. This was a large part thanks to the Rube Goldberg machines and inventions he drew.

Rube Goldberg: Biography, Cartoons & Inventions |

Rube Goldberg Machines

The now-common phrases Goldbergian or Rube Goldberg machine refer to crazy inventions featured in his comic strips. These cartoons featuring complex contraptions began in 1912 and quickly made him a household name.

In 1928 Goldberg created a character called Professor Lucifer Gorganzola Butts A.K. Lucifer Butts, who was featured in a comic strip that ran in Collier magazine every two weeks until the end of 1931, devised elaborate inventions.

Rube Goldberg – Originally published in Collier’s, September 26 1931

Goldberg continued to draw comics until 1964. Like many others, like Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney, he crafted anti-fascist political cartoons leading up to and during the second world war.

A collection of invention cartoons can be found on

“Rube Goldberg” is an adjective

In 1931 Merriam Webster dictionary listed “Rube Goldberg” as an adjective.

Rube Gold·​berg | adjective \ ˈrüb-ˈgōl(d)-ˌbərg \

: accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply

Rube Goldberg | Definition of Rube Goldberg by Merriam-Webster

More Details

If you’re interested in further information about Rube Goldberg, check out the following video.

Rate This Biscuit

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No ratings so far! Be the first to rate this wisdom biscuit.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!