The following information was provided by Aaron Sawyer : [The machine holding the Watermelon] was an Instron, Inc., materials test machine. Their website is located at http://www.instron.com.
No self-respecting materials research lab was without one. Diamond anvils for pressure/compression testing, tungsten-silicon-carbide jaws for deformation and shear testing, programmable, remotely controllable (ultimately computer-controlled), it was the favored instrument of the time. Perhaps someone at Instron may be able to identify the exact model used in the film; it's not every day that a machine is a movie star!
The following information was provided by to Ted Jordan : As a former owner of a materials testing laboratory, the testing equipment in Buckaroo Banzai grabbed my attention, especially the one holding the watermelon. The type of dial face on the load indicator indicates that the manufacturer was probably Tinius-Olsen whose headquarters is in the Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, PA. Instron made very high precision, usually digital testers. I also recognized several LECO analysis units that measure the composition of non-metallic elements like carbon and sulfur by heating cups full of metal chips to almost white-hot temperatures. I have just ordered the DVD and hopefully it will have information on where this was filmed.
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