Monday, March 23, 2009

... And Jeremy Clarkson Has Hooked One Up To A V8 Engine ...

The Turboencabulator or turbo-encabulator is a fictional machine whose alleged existence became an in-joke and subject of professional humor among electrical engineers.

In 1946 one of the earliest references to the turbo-encabulator appeared in Time on, April 15, 1946 by Bernard Salwen, a New York lawyer working in Washington, DC. Part of Salwen's job was to review technical manuscripts. He was amused by the jargon and wrote the classic description of a non-existent turboencabulator.

In 1955 the turboencabulator was supposedly described by a "J.H. Quick" in "The Institution of Electrical Engineers, Students Quarterly Journal" 25 (London), p184 in 1955. (Other sources give vol 15 no. 58 p. 22, December 1944.)

In 1962 a turboencabulator data sheet was created by engineers at General Electric's Instrument Department, in West Lynn, Massachusetts. It quoted much of the above sources and was inserted into the General Electric Handbook. Perhaps to make the hoax more believable, the turboencabulator data sheet had the same format as the other pages in the G.E. Handbook. The engineers added "Shure Stat" in "Technical Features", which was peculiar only to the Instrument Department, and included the first known graphic representation of a "manufactured" turboencabulator using parts made at the Instrument Department.

Circa 1988 the former Chrysler Corporation "manufactured" the Turbocabulator in a video spoof. See external link in the bottom of this article.

Circa 1997 Rockwell Automation "manufactured" the renamed Retro-Encabulator in another video spoof. See external link in the bottom of this article.

The technical descriptions of all these turboencabulators remain remarkably similar over the years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


What an excellent 'prank'.