The Do Nothing Machine, built by Lawrence Wahlstrom, plus stationary engines by Rudy Kouhoupt at the end. Craftsmanship Museum, Carlsbad, CA.This machine appears to have hundreds, if not thousands of intricate moving parts and mechanisms, all for no other purpose that doing nothing.
The inventor of this engineering marvel was Lawrence Wahlstrom, a retired clock maker. He worked in the newspaper business and for the telephone company, while also acting as caretaker and landscape gardener for a Beverly Hills estate for 40 years. He always enjoyed tinkering with clocks and had attended a clock school to learn about their repair. Somewhere along the line he acquired a fascination for gears.
The machine has no obvious job or task, it just moves, using some insanely precise tolerances and well-thought-out planning. You can see when the host turns on the power, the machine whirrs to life, clicking away as the gears and chains engage each other, all to accomplish nothing.
After coming across a surplus WWII bomb sight containing a complicated cluster of gears, he got it working again. He also realized that people prefer to be entertained rather than educated, so he began adding more and more gears to his assembly over a 15-year period starting in about 1948. The first known publicity photo of it appeared in 1950.
Over the years, the number of gears continued to grow, reaching either 744 or 764 depending on which account you read. Like the motion of the machine, the actual figure is somewhat fluid. It attracted a lot of media attention over the years, appearing in magazine articles and on TV shows.