When I was a kid, every year for Halloween — instead of just handing out candy in a bowl — our neighbor would create a magical machine that allowed kids to select one of four types of cand
y using a Morse code key hooked up to a buzzer. After keying in the code, a light bulb over the selection would illuminate and the candy bar would come flying out of a chute. The premise of “The Machine” was that it was fully automatic (imagine a box about the size of 12-pack of beer, sitting on a table, with a curtain strung up behind it), and they did a great job keeping the story going year after year.
When our neighbor aged out, the responsibility for the Machine was bequeathed to me. It was then that I learned the truth about the man behind the curtain, who had to listen carefully to count the Morse code beeps, manually connect the wires to the right light bulb, and send the candy down the chute. To say this was a life-shaping moment would be an understatement. Ever since, I’ve wanted to make the real, fully automatic Machine.
Now my kids are about the same age I was then, so I decided it was time to make this dream happen.
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