The Useless Machine video has just cracked four million views! For me, this is a big thing. I know it’s no David After the Dentist, but still my mind boggles.
Four million is such a big number you need to break things down to something the mind can grasp: four million views times 19 seconds = 2.4 years of Useless Viewing. Good thing I didn’t make the video any longer!
Now that’s just taking into account the video. What about the time folks have spend building and playing with Useless Machines?
I have no idea how many people have actually built machines but it must be in the thousands… Continue reading →
The earliest reference to the Ultimate Machine that I’ve found is by Arthur C. Clarke from the August 1958 issue of Harper’s Magazine article (also in his book Voice Across the Sea: p. 159, Revised edition, New York: Harper & Row, 1959 and 1974):
With this description in mind, Michal Zalewski has posted about his second build of an Ultimate Machine.
As he says on his build page Shannon’s Ultimate Machine, take 2, the goal was to build an Ultimate Machine that was “elegant, simple, and chillingly sinister”. It’s using an Atmega48P micro-controller and it has a display showing a count of how many times the switch has been toggled.
Like myself, Steve is fascinated with the concept of a machine with only one function: to turn itself off.
Steve’s article begins with a history of Ultimate/Useless Machines including links to other useless articles and goes on to review the two Useless Machine apps available for the iPhone/Pad. I’ve mentioned one of the apps in a previous post, but the second one is news to me.
For those interested in UM’s I highly recommend that you check it out.
If you’re wonder about the drawing to the left, it’s Steve’s favicon. For an explanation look here.
Concerning Useless apps, I don’t own an iPhone/Pad so I haven’t had a chance to try these programs. One is free, and the other costs a whopping 99 cents.
If Steve Jobs is listening, please know that I would gladly trade a handcrafted UM for an iPad. If Stephen Colbert can beg for an iPad, I don’t see any reason why I can’t! (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more…)