A Rube Goldberg device is a contraption that accomplishes a straightforward goal through a series of complicated and unnecessary steps.
The term comes from award-winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg’s newspaper comics in the 1920s and 1930s in which simple household problems like sharpening a pencil are solved with outlandish technological solutions:
Open window (A) and fly kite (B). String (C) lifts small door (D) allowing moths (E) to escape and eat red flannel shirt (F).
As weight of shirt becomes less, shoe (G) steps on switch (H) which heats electric iron (I) and burns hole in pants Q).
Smoke (K) enters hole in tree (L), smoking out opossum (M) which jumps into basket (N), pulling rope (0) and lifting cage (P), allowing woodpecker (0) to chew wood from pencil (R), exposing lead.