Thomas Robinson and Eliza Heath had three sons, Thomas (1869-1950), Charles (1870-1937), and William (1872-1944), who followed in their father's (and grandfather's) footsteps as illustrators of various sorts. The most widely know was the youngest, W. Heath Robinson, whose contraptions earned him the reputation as the UK counterpart to the US artist Rube Goldberg. But the other two brothers are not to be overlooked. [more inside]
Early 1940: British police listening for radio transmissions from German spies within the UK pick up weird signals, and pass them to Bletchley Park, the United Kingdom's main decryption establishment in WWII. The source of these German messages is an unknown machine, which the Brits dub Tunny (10 minute video with Tony Sale describing the Tunny). August 30, 1941: German operators send two very similar messages with the same key, providing insight into the encryption scheme. By January 1942, British cryptographers deduced the workings of the German code machines, sight unseen. The British were able to create their own Tunny emulators to decrypt messages sent by German High Command. After the war, these and other British code-breaking and emulating machines were demolished and/or recycled for parts and their blueprints destroyed, leaving a hole in the history of the British WWII code breaking. Efforts to rebuild the British Tunny emulator started in the 1990s, and quite recently a Tunny emulator replica was completed. [more inside]
The U.K.'s answer to Rube Goldberg. Cartoonist W. Heath Robinson, 1872-1944.
Industrialised society's fascination with useless invention: as a kid I used to love the work of Heath Robinson, inventor of (among others) a method of testing safety matches, the potato peeler, and an inoffensive method of weighing a lady friend. His American equivalent was the slightly more scientific Rube Goldberg. Occasional attempts of the patently useless to make the leap into the real world have been furthered considerably by the Japanese art of Chindogu, made popular by Kenji Kawakami, inventor of (among others) the Hay fever hat, the portable road crossing, and dusting shoes for cats. Maywa Denki seems to transcend earthy Chindogu with fish-based and musical (via sharpeworld) inventions.