I’m fascinated by the way some things come to be. Take the retro toy, Etch-A-Sketch. Adre Cassagnes, while tinkering in his garage dreamed up a drawing toy that kids could erase by shaking and draw again and again.
It was sometimes in 1950 when Cassagnes sat in his garage creating a drawing toy made up of glass, aluminum powder and a joystick. His name for his invention was the Telecran. It was later renamed “The Magic Screen” or L’Ecran Magique and spotlighted in Nuremberg, Germany in 1959 at a Toy Fair.
The fascination crossed the ocean and founder and president of The Ohio Art Company, Henry Winzeler, licensed L’Ecran Magique for $25,000 and debuted the Etch A Sketch in the United States the following year (1960).
The changes made it the most popular selling toy during Christmas that year and since then sells continue, with more than 150 million units sold worldwide.
As a toy it has appeared in Toy Story and Toy Story 2. It was the talk of the political campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, when Romney’s senior campaign advisor compared his candidate’s position to an Etch A Sketch, propelling The Ohio Art Company to market red and blue Etch A Sketches during the campaign season.
In 1998, the toy’s “magic screen” was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. In 2003, it was added to the Toy Industry Association’s list of “Century of Toys”.
Cassanges didn’t stop inventing. He developed a series of ring-shaped kites to celebrate the Olympic Games. He was a well known kite-maker.
On February 4, Cassanges passed away, leaving behind his wife, Renee, and a legacy to children everywhere–some who remember the Etch A Sketch as one of the best retro toys, while others are just now discovering the magic inside the screen.
What is your favorite toy memory?
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