UPDATE: Paul Murray sez: I believe the "Rockwell Electric retro-incabulator" is an homage to/updating of an older industrial video put-on, which in turn dates back to a humor piece written in the 1940s. Here's what I know. When I was in college (early 1980s), I was shown a short video clip where a narrator described the features and benefits of a "turbo encabulator," which presumably was the massive piece of industrial equipment in the photo next to him. My jaw dropped at the absurdly complex, dense explanation he provided for this mysterious piece of equipment, which left me utterly lost. As I eventually learned, it was actually a brilliant spoof of the copy written for industrial film-making. I don't know whose idea the clip was, but I know the narrator of that version was named "Bud" Haggart, who pioneered the use of "the ear" that enables talent to work without a TelePrompTer. I've actually worked with him a few times. I personally know of at least one other homage/remake of the legendary turbo-encabulator gag, and I believe that this is yet another. Even the name seems to suggest it. However, even that is not the true origin! A little Googling turns up this piece [http://www.floobydust.com/turbo-encabulator/] written in 1944! Sure enough, the video version I remember started off the same way this piece does.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.