Monday, December 14, 2009

Rube Goldberg at Work

Last week was the anniversary of Rube Goldberg (7/7/1883 - 12/7/1970) passing away.

Reuben Lucius Goldberg was one of the founding members and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society. The Reuben Award, the "Oscar" of cartooning, is named after him.

Although he graduated in 1904 from the University of California Berkeley with a degree in engineering, Rube only worked as an engineer for all of six months. He left City of San Francisco Water and Sewer Department to work at the San Francisco papers; first, the Chronicle, then, the next year, the Bulletin.

He moved to New York City in 1907, working for five newspapers. His work was syndicated beginning in 1915. He married Irma Seeman a year later.

As Wikipedia puts it:

Goldberg is best known for a series of popular cartoons he created depicting complex devices that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways – now known as Rube Goldberg machines.
And so, as we learn, he did succeed as a sort of engineer!

I just happened to have a couple of these photos of Goldberg at his drawing board in later years. I would guess this is may be when he lived in his Long Island home, although it looks like he's in a Manhattan high-rise in the above photo. I can't recall where these photos were originally found. Just something found on the hard drive.

I do know that if you were out along the North Shore in the 1960s, you could easily find his house because his bold "Goldberg" signature was on his mailbox.

There's a lot to admire about his lasting impact. He won a Pulitzer, and his own Reuben Award (although he had to wait nearly 2 decades before his colleagues voted that he should receive it), and his name lived on as an adjective for an over-engineered mechanism.

Related: Some more cartoonist photos from the San Francisco Examiner.

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