Pinneleck‘s delayed self-replicator lost any chance to live up to its name with the demise of Dauvergno Pinneleck and the negligence that followed. An impassioned deathbed testament instructed his heirs to account for each item manufactured by the device and to keep these all in one place. But this was seemingly too large a request for any but Pinneleck’s faithful step-nephew Tumno, who by misadventure could not reach the family seat until far too late, and whose memoirs added essential detail to this tragic episode in the annals of modern engineering.
The machine would begin working immediately upon being fed a 4 ounce steel ingot (this is believed to have happened somewhat less than 1200 times). It would then never fail to produce a small, unique but incomplete mechanism with one or two moving parts that, even if never touched, would start and stop at certain intervals ad infinitum. These objects, known as Pinneleck‘s components, would (Pinneleck assured) eventually converge to form a new self-replicator far larger and more versatile than the original.
But the components, small and motile, had a tendency to drag themselves away from wherever they were placed and become lost — and many did, escaping from insecure storage crates in the family attic. Many more vanished directly after creation at numerous dinner parties and ill-advised events staged for curious dignitaries and the press. Demanding a precise inventory, Tumno Pinneleck found that only 768 components could be accounted for, despite the existence of hundreds more.
In the years following Dauvergno Pinneleck’s death, Tumno collected 203 components from divers sources. Some were discovered in bird nests, in the dung of livestock, as “performers” in puppet theaters, or as elements of numerous handmade toys and even a few bespoke erotic undergarments (for which each component, now in the role of a button, was made motionless by a new clasp imposed upon it, so that with these clasps undone, the garment would slowly unbutton itself). More were only witnessed or likely hallucinated. The infamous case of Vara Porelophin (ibid.) involved her claim that seven of Pinneleck‘s components resided in her wall, and in sentient coordination would emerge at certain times of the day and night to control her actions with invisible threads.
The remaining components can be observed by appointment with the estate of Tumno Pinneleck. The self-replicator has mysteriously stopped working.