Object Technology To Tickle The Brain

Remember those absurd inventions cartoonist Rube Goldberg used to draw? Laughing at our growing obsession with machinery, he combined everything from falling bowling balls to cats chasing mice to pistols and pulleys in convoluted chain-reactions to put out a light, say, or open a can of beans. Now with Sierra On-Line Inc.'s new software, called The Incredible Machine, you can build your own mechanical oddities and watch them run with remarkable realism on the screen of your IBM-compatible PC.

Using a mouse--the kind connected to your computer--you select from a palette of 45 animated parts, ranging from a seesaw to a banana-chasing monkey. The program offers 75 puzzles to challenge your ingenuity in configuring those parts to do some task. It also lets you build the most outrageous machine you can dream of. And all the while, you will get a small lesson in the hottest idea in software these days: object technology. That, Sierra officials say, is what helps the program's imaginary parts--software objects--interact with each other so realistically, no matter how they're set up.

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