Turbo encabulator

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The turbo encabulator (later the retro encabulator) is a fictional electromechanical machine with a satirical technobabble description that became a famous in-joke amongst engineers after it was published by the British Institution of Electrical Engineers in their Students' Quarterly Journal in 1944.[1][2] Technical documentation has been written for the non-existent machine, and there are a number of parody marketing videos.

The original machine has a base-plate of prefabulated amulite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings were in a direct line with the pentametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzelvanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented. The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semiboloid slots in the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential girdlespring on the "up" end of the grammeters.

— John Hellins Quick, The turbo-encabulator in industry, Students' Quarterly Journal, Vol. 15, Issue 58, December 1944


Page 1 of a 1962 description of a turboencabulator "made" by GE
Page 2 of a 1962 description of a turboencabulator "made" by GE

An early popular American reference to the turbo encabulator appeared in an article by New York lawyer Bernard Salwen in the April 15, 1946 issue of Time magazine. Part of Salwen's job was to review technical manuscripts, including an Arthur D. Little Industrial Bulletin which had reprinted Quick's piece, and he was amused enough by it to include the description in his article.[2]

In response to a letter printed in the May 6 issue of Time from W. E. Habig of Madison, N.J. asking "What is a 'dingle arm'?”, the editors described it as "An adjunct to the turbo-encabulator, employed whenever a barescent skor motion is required."[3] A month later a response to reader mail on the feature appeared in the June 3, 1946 issue:

If the sackful of mail we have received from you is any indication, the story of "The Turbo-Encabulator in Industry" struck many a responsive chord. Aside from those of you who wanted to be reassured that TIME hadn't been taken in, we received the customary complaints about using too much technical jargon for the layman, observations such as "My husband says it sounds like a new motor; I say it sounds like a dictionary that has been struck by lightning"; suggestions that it "might have come out of the mouth of Danny Kaye," and plaintive queries like: "Is this good?" Wrote one bemused U.S. Navyman: "It'sh poshible." To some the turbo-encabulator sounded as though it would be a "wonderful machine for changing baby's diapers." A reader from Hoboken assumed that it would be on sale soon in Manhattan department stores. Many of you wrote in to thank us for illuminating what you have long wanted to tell your scientist friends."[4]

In 1962 a turbo encabulator data sheet was created by engineers at the Instrument Department of General Electric in West Lynn, Massachusetts. It quoted from the previous sources and was inserted into the General Electric Handbook,[5] where it was laid out in the same format as the other pages. 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" turbo encabulator using parts made at the department.

Circa 1977, Bud Haggart, an actor who appeared in many industrial training films in and around Detroit, performed in the first film realization of the description and operation of the turbo encabulator, using a truncated script adapted from Quick's article. Haggart convinced director Dave Rondot and the film crew to stay after the filming of an actual GMC Trucks project training film to realize the turbo encabulator spot.[6]

Around 1988, the Chrysler Corporation "manufactured" the turbo encabulator in a video, with Haggart reprising his role from the GM film.[7] Rockwell Automation "manufactured" the renamed "Retro Encabulator" in another video in 1997 featuring actor Mike Kraft. In this video, rather than a transmission-like device, Rockwell uses a series of electrical wall panels to demonstrate the nature of its Retro Encabulator.[8] In an interview, Kraft explains the video's popularity:

It’s just the fact that so many people have had to sit through so many educational/industrial videos that look and sound just like this one and they're dead serious and deadly dull. From the engineers to the marketers to the distributors, they all have to know about the product in order to present it to customers, and sometimes that means having to know your cardinal grammeter from your girdle spring.[9]

On April Fools' Day 2013, Hank Green released a SciShow episode on YouTube entitled "The Retro-Proto-Turbo-Encabulator."[10]

On April 1, 2016, PATH "introduced" the Micro-Encabulator on their YouTube channel as a "new game-changing global health technology featuring hydrocoptic miniaturization and advanced panametric fan alignment."[11]

In August 2018, Macquarie Telecom released a spin-off advertisement of the gag, which instead used telecommunications jargon.[12]

In December 2020, the video game Cyberpunk 2077 included an off-path scannable item called the "Cyberencabulator", findable during one particular end game mission, with multiple references to the original text, including averted sidefumbling.[13]

In April 2021, Keysight paid homage to the turbo encabulator by releasing a video in which the "Electro Turbo Encabulator" was revealed.[14]

In April 2022, AlphaPhoenix showed their construction of the first Magneto-Turboencabulator, this allows for transmission of mechanical torque via long range flux interactions, instead of the repulsion between electrons in adjacent bodies of metallic alloy. [15]

Also in April 2022, AndyMark showed their construction of the first ROBO ENCABULATOR. It's primary function is to bring a level of FIRST_Robotics_Competition game play that can not be outmatched. [16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Quick, J.H. (1944). "The turbo-encabulator in industry". Students' Quarterly Journal. 15 (58): 22. doi:10.1049/sqj.1944.0033.
  2. ^ a b Salwen, Bernard (15 April 1946). "For Nofer Trunnions". Time.
  3. ^ "Letters, May 6, 1946". Time. May 6, 1946. Archived from the original on February 19, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
  4. ^ "Letters, Jun. 3, 1946". Time. June 3, 1946. Archived from the original on February 19, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
  5. ^ Turboencabulator.
  6. ^ 'Turbo Encabulator' the Original. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  7. ^ Chrysler Turbo Encabulator. Chrysler Corporation. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  8. ^ Rockwell Retro Encabulator. Rockwell Automation. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  9. ^ "An Interview with Mike Kraft". www.plcdev.com. 2006-05-30. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  10. ^ April Fools Episode – The Retro-Proto-Turbo-Encabulator. Hank Green. 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  11. ^ PATH (2016-04-01), Introducing the innovative new Micro Encabulator™, retrieved 2017-01-11
  12. ^ The Macquarie Telecom SD-WAN Turbo Cloud Encabulator, archived from the original on 2021-12-22, retrieved 2021-08-16
  13. ^ Cyberpunk 2077 easter eggs #2 Cyberencabulator, archived from the original on 2021-12-22, retrieved 2021-09-08
  14. ^ Electro Turbo Encabulator Reveal & Reviews, 2021-03-30, archived from the original on 2021-12-22, retrieved 2021-03-30
  15. ^ Introducing the Magneto-Turboencabulator, 2022-04-01
  16. ^ ROBO ENCABULATOR, 2022-04-01

External linksEdit

Selected videos

First four presented by Bud Haggart.