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Doomba refers a custom modified version of the autonomous vacuum cleaner Roomba with a weapon or an accessory attached to the top. The name is an amalgamation of the words “doom” and “Roomba”, which is meant to illustrate the machine’s weaponized and deadly nature.
A Roomba is an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner manufactured and distributed by iRobot. Since its introduction in 2002, the home appliance product has sold at least 6 million units and established itself as one of the first commercially successful first-generation domestic robots. On March 6th, 2012, Redditor buswork submitted a photo to the /r/pics subreddit of a Roomba with a kitchen knife taped to the top in a post titled “Home Security.” Within five months, the post received over 23,000 up votes and 550 comments.
The earliest known portrayal of a Roomba device as an artificial intelligent killing machine can be traced back to the web comic series Questionable Content in a 2006 issue titled “West Side Story.” On February 10th, 2009, The Daily Show aired a segment titled “Future Shock – Roombas of Doom”, featuring an interview with an engineer who invented weaponized Roombas known as “Packbots” for the U.S. Department of Defense. In the segment, correspondent Samantha Bee describes the robots as “Roombas of doom. Doombas.”
On March 9th, 2012, the Cheezburger site FAILBlog highlighted the knife-wielding Roomba photo in a post titled “There I Fixed It: The Doomba.” On April 26th, YouTuber petetweets uploaded a video titled “Killer Roomba”, featuring another Roomba with a knife and a digital camera strapped to the top of its case.
On August 12th, Redditor Dkcub23 reposted the “Home Security” Roomba photo to the /r/funny subreddit, which reached the front page and received over 9,000 up votes and 225 comments within 24 hours. In the comments, Redditor PhiladelphiaIrish linked an edited photo of the Roomba in a scene from the robot fighting television show Battlebots (shown below, left). The same day, Redditor Skankosaurus submitted a post titled “Doomba 2.0”, which featured a photograph of a Roomba with a handgun attached to the top (shown below, right).
Within the next 24 hours, over 200 Doomba-related Reddit posts were submitted, many of which reached the front page including “Doomba 3.0” (shown below, left), “Doomba 4.0” (shown below, middle) and “Doomba 5.0” (shown below, right). Also on August 12th, Urban Dictionary users samwaffleman and The Lord of the Dance submitted definitions for the word “Doomba.” In addition, animated GIFs of Doombas have spread to Tumblr under the tag “#doomba.”
The device has been also paired with cats through homemade movies on YouTube as early as in November 2008.