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May 8, 2014

History in the making in Rube Goldberg style

Last year Microsoft Internet Explorer released this incredible “Child of the 90’s” video celebrating the launch of the new version of the browser. This year we got in touch with the team responsible and created a sequel to it to celebrate the coming together of Nokia Devices and Services and Microsoft.

As the next chapter of our remarkable story begins, what better way to celebrate the coming together of our histories than with a Rube Goldberg machine, where every part has an equally important role to play in the larger story.


The video was created by two teams of incredible people – Column Five, the agency responsible for helping create the Internet Explorer “Child of the 90’s” video, and Brett Doar the lead Machine Engineer, who also built elaborate contraptions for the GoldieBlox “Princess Machine” commercial and the viral OK Go! music video for ‘This Too Shall Pass.


Original sketch of the Rube Goldberg machine before construction began.


Asher Rumack from Column Five commented on the video saying: “This project was cool because we got to include an iconic 90s item — the Nokia phone —  that wasn’t in the Child of the 90s video — thus giving it a feeling of a sequel. The other elements seen in the Nokia video (the floppy disks, Dot Matrix printer, original XBOX and an old school boom box) also pay a big homage to the 90s.”

The Snake game you see on the video is an 18 x 18 grid with 324 LED light bulbs and has about 80 switches that turn off. It consumed around 4 kilowatts, and you could feel the heat from 15 feet away. Paul Thompson, Brett’s lead builder, was working for 2 days wiring the entire grid. It’s not an exaggeration to say it probably had half a mile of wire in there.


If you’re watching the video and you see something drop on a string, and there’s something that looks like a propeller that spins, that’s not decorative. The propeller is functioning as an air brake to slow the thing down and control its descent. We wanted to make sure that the things that were falling weren’t falling so fast that the camera had trouble following it.

Are you a fan of Rube Goldberg style videos? What’s your all-time favorite? Let us know in the comments below.