M3™ – “Mike McGinnis Mazes”

What is an original idea? My philosophy is that nothing comes from the void (except for maybe the Big Bang...). Today’s inventions are the product of those that have come before. So what does it take to come up with a unique idea? I believe it’s the natural result of curiosity and a desire to solve a problem. Often an invention is simultaneously discovered in different parts of the world. Well, Superplexus has influences too.

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Childhood mazes (click to enlarge)

In the mid and late 1970s, I shared a hobby with my friend, Dale Lomelino. We were really into mazes. I think it was Dale who had the idea of “one→way arrows”, where the path can only be traveled in the direction of the arrows. It would have been interesting if those arrows could switch direction as the player moved through the maze, but then how could you do that on paper? He was extremely smart and in all the time I knew him he got only one “B” grade, and that was in gym class. On the other hand, I flunked kindergarten and my GPA was in the upper twos. I moved to California at the beginning of 11th grade, and haven’t seen Dale since then. He graduated a year early from high school, went into electrical engineering and began designing semiconductor chips. Semiconductors are essentially electron mazes with one-way arrows that can change direction. Interesting how kid-stuff affects our adult lives.

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Golf Course Hole 18a Golf Course Hole 18b Golf Course Hole 16-Detail Golf Course All 18 Holes
A Miniature Golf Course

There were other things I liked to make and draw back then. I’d draw cruise ships, space ships, aliens, detailed buildings, and abstract 3D forms. Above is my miniature golf course. It turns out that in the 1930s, my mom’s uncle Harold and his buddy actually built a miniature golf course in an empty lot in Chicago to pay for school! They became dentists and doctors... I became an artist.

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Games I enjoyed as a kid.

Dominoes and the wooden Labyrinth were my favorite games when I was young. Many hours were spent building and destroying domino structures, but I didn’t really like them as a competitive game; they were more of a toy to me. The “domino effect” required both double-nine and a double-twelve sets to be worthwhile. PATHFINDER was a maze game that I got at the same time my brother Tim got COLOMBO and Tom got WILDLIFE. Tom is now a biologist for the Forest Service, so I guess Tim needs to be a detective. The Pachinko game really got me into mechanical problem solving (it was constantly getting jammed). Those Japanese characters on the ball bearings were so cool!