This neat little invention caught my attention for its sheer uselessness. Yup, you read me right. The following clip features one of the most useless things I’ve ever seen. It’s so useless, it prompted me to spend 20 minutes exploring its history and another 20 minutes writing this post. I hope you enjoy its uselessness as much as me!
The Ultimate Machine
Inventor, Marvin Minsky
The idea of the Ultimate Machine was the product of Marvin Minsky‘s unique mind. Yet, it took another renegade thinker to develop it. Claude Elwood Shannon (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) was an American electronic engineer and mathematician. He is also known as “the father of information theory”.
Shannon is credited with founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937, when, as a 21-year-old master’s student at MIT, he wrote a thesis demonstrating that electrical application of Boolean algebra could construct and resolve any logical, numerical relationship. It has been claimed that this was the most important master’s thesis of all time.
But aside from his acamedic pursuits, Shannon also invented many unconventional and fun devices, including rocket-powered flying discs, a motorized pogo stick and a flame-throwing trumpet for a science exhibition.
Among these inventions was Minsky’s previously theoretical ‘Ultimate Machine’: Abox with a single switch on its side. When the switch was flipped, the lid of the box opens and a mechanical hand reaches out, flips off the switch, then retracts back inside the box.