The Gizmonics Institute is the company where Joel Robinson
worked as a janitor
before he was shot up into space
by Dr. Clayton Forrester
and Dr. Lawrence Erhardt
on TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000
. The institute is devoted to the discovery and invention of new concepts and devices. The building itself is shaped like a large G
with gear-spokes surrounding the outer curve of the building. This shape is also the company logo and appears in several places on the show, including Joel
's jumpsuit, Dr. Forrester
's lab coat, and the door to the movie theater
on the Satellite of Love
. Businesses near the institute appear to capiltalize on the "Gizmonics" name; a nearby hamburger establishment promotes itself as the "home of the Big-G Burger" on its outdoor sign.
The traditional greeting between employees is the Invention Exchange in which staff meeting in the halls greet each other by sharing their latest inventions. This concept dominated the opening skits of the series during Joel Hodgson's reign as he was the gizmocrat on staff at Best Brains and he created most of the inventions that were demonstrated. The backstory of the series goes that the evil mad scientists were jealous of Joel's inventions, as he was a lowly janitor and the two mad doctors were professional scientists. The KTMA-23 season, MST3K's initial year on local Minnesota television, depicted the scientists sending the movies from a control room in the institute (which was actually a control room at KTMA-23's studios). When the show moved to Comedy Central the scientists moved underground to Deep 13 to escape suspicion, thirteen levels beneath the building close to the atomic pile.
After Joel Hodgson left the series after episode #512, Mitchell, all instances and utterings of the Gizmonics Institute were wiped from the show. The reason behind this is that the word "gizmonic" was a part of Joel's stand-up comedy act for years prior to the inception of the show and is more identified with Joel than it was MST3K. By Season 5 the institute was only seen in the opening theme song & commercial bumpers and was never a part of the episode plots, so the choice was made to remove everything gizmonic from the series. Even the invention exchanges were dropped soon after, as the new host, Mike Nelson, was not an inventor. When Universal Pictures first approached Best Brains with the proposal for Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, the studio executives pitched for the film's concept a prequel plot that would minimize movie riffing and instead focus on Joel Robinson's days at the institute where he first met and earned the ire of Dr. Forrester. Best Brains rejected this idea and the finished film is closer in tone to the television series.
For a brief time in the late 1990s Joel had a website, http://www.gizmonics.com, that was high on concept and low on content. Several years ago Joel decided to discontinue the site, he let the registration lapse, and the URL was bought up by a cybersquatter who redirected the address to a seedy porn website. Joel has since not returned to the Internet and is instead working on various television projects that capture his interest.