Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ultimate machine

Michael reports: [edited]

About 7 years ago I was reading an article on Claude Shannon and came across one of the funniest ideas I had ever heard. Claude, you see, was one of these incredibly brilliant engineers with an obviously great sense of humor.

As I understand it, he, along with Marvin Minsky came up with an idea they called the "Ultimate Machine". Basically a plain box with a switch on the top. When you flip the switch, a hand comes out of the box and flips the switch off. Thats it.

Well, after reading the article, and laughing out loud, I decided that I had to build one of these boxes. So simple, and yet so funny.

A plastic box I had lying around, a couple of hobby servos, a PIC Microprocessor, and a little code was all it took. Over the years I've brought this box to friends' houses, businesses, and bars. I get a pretty consistent reaction - First no one wants to touch it. Next, someone reaches out tentatively and flips the switch. After that, all you hear is laughter and everyone's trying it out.

Thanks to Conrad for the link

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