Rube Goldberg

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Reuben Lucius Goldberg (July 4, 1883 – December 7, 1970) was a Jewish American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. 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. Goldberg received many honors in his lifetime including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948 and the Banshees' Silver Lady Award 1959.[1]

Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society,[2] and is the name sake of the Reuben Award which the organization awards to the Cartoonist of the Year. He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as Rube Goldberg contests, which challenge participants to make a complex machine to perform a simple task.



Goldberg married Irma Seeman in 1916. They lived at 88 Central Park West and had two sons named Thomas and George. Goldberg did not share a surname with his children because of the amount of hate mail he received during World War II from the political nature of his cartoons. He ordered his sons to change their names from Goldberg for safety reasons. Both of his sons chose the last name of George, wanting to keep a sense of family cohesiveness. Thomas and George's children now run a company called RGI (Rube Goldberg Incorporated) to maintain the Goldberg name. John George (Thomas's son) is assisted by his cousin Jennifer George[3] (George's daughter) and John's son Joshua George to keep the family name alive.[4] Reuben died in 1970 at the age of 87, while his widow, Irma, died 20 years later at the age of 95.[5]


Rube Goldberg graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1904 with a College of Mining degree[1] and was hired by the city of San Francisco as an engineer for the Water and Sewers Department. After six months he resigned his position with the city to join the San Francisco Chronicle where he became a sports cartoonist.[1] The following year, he took a job with the San Francisco Bulletin, where he remained until he moved to New York City in 1907.

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