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Etch A Sketch Inventor Dies - A Tribute to My All Time Favourite Childhood Toy

By Edited May 20, 2015 1 1

Etch A Sketch
As a kid growing up in the 60s there was a toy I wanted more than anything else and that was the classic Etch A Sketch.

It is still around today, but back in the early 60s this was the magic screen and it was simply amazing to me and all my friends.  One kid on the street got one for Christmas and we all wanted a chance to play with it.  

I remember being a little kid with my friends, and we all were looking over this boy’s shoulder as he drew with the Etch-A-Sketch then simply turned it over and shook it and there was a fresh screen.  Wow!

To the computer set today this may seem strange but to a kid in the early 60s this was simply magic.  You could create all kinds of art, then simply turn it upside down and shake to start again with a fresh screen.  That was the magic part to us!

In the Early 60s Televisions Were Not In Every House!

We didn’t have all this instant information that is around today, many of my friends didn’t even have a TV yet.  We would create our own fantasies and all we needed were a few simple toys to help us along.  Nothing flashed or beeped or needed batteries.  This to us was a modern toy.

But as many toys slowly disappeared to be replaced with battery powered ones (to our parent’s dismay!) and more commercials on that Black and White television started pushing the latest doll or car that could do things, many toys got put away and yet the Etch A Sketch kept going. 

Magic Screen
Ohio Art Classic Etch A Sketch Magic Screen
Amazon Price: $14.99 $12.65 Buy Now
(price as of May 20, 2015)

I Spent Hours on the Magic Screen Creating

I remember finally getting one for my birthday as many stores simply sold out of the toy as soon as they came in, and once I got it, I remember spending hours and hours creating primitive drawings as you basically could only use two knobs on either side of this red frame to create you’re drawing. 

One knob had the line going vertical and the other knob was for horizontal, so you had to figure out how to use both at the same time to actually create angles and curves.  But it was so amazing to me that I played with it for a long time, and then when I grew out of it my two brothers and sister played with it.  It was very robust and tolerated all that shaking and a few drops down the stairs.  Most electronic toys these days would not survive the day, but these were built robust.

This toy is still on the market today!

Etch A Sketch(129004)
Ohio Art Classic Etch A Sketch Magic Screen
Amazon Price: $14.99 $12.65 Buy Now
(price as of May 20, 2015)

Andre Cassagnes - Inventor of the Etch A Sketch has Died

This all came back to me today as I heard on the news that Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of my most favourite childhood toy, died on January 16th of this year (2013).  It brought back memories of parents lining up in the store to get this creative magic screen known as the Etch A Sketch!

Andre was a French electrician who dreamed up a drawing toy for kids in his garage while tinkering around with glass and aluminum powder in 1950.  It was originally called the “Telecran” it was later changed to “Magic Screen” when it made its big debut at a toy fair in Germany in 1959.

Etch A Sketch is Not Powered By Batteries but By a Child's Imagination!

When the president of the Ohio Art Company, Henry Winzeler, came across this magic screen he immediately loved it and bought the license to it for 25,000 dollars and renamed it “Etch A Sketch” and put it on the market in the United States in 1960.  He stayed connected with the inventor Andre so that they could work on improving the toy.

He changed the original look by getting rid of the joy stick that was originally on the toy and replacing it with the two knobs on either side of the screen to replicate the latest adult toy at the time which was the television!

It was the most popular toy on the market that Christmas in 1960 and 1961 and has remained popular ever since. 

There was another surge of popularity when the movie “Toy Story” came out and the Etch A Sketch was then created in red and blue.

It was inducted into the “toy hall of fame” in 1998 and then in 2003 it was added to the “Century of Toys List”. 

Andre Cassagne didn’t stop there, he went on to become a well-known kite maker, creating the ring style kites for celebrating the Olympics.

It just brought back so many memories of that special toy.  I have loved drawing, painting and creating ever since.  My mother once told me, it was the only time I would sit still.  I give thanks to Andre Cassagnes for inventing this toy.  My interest in drawing and art I feel got started with that simple red Magic Screen called the Etch A Sketch.

 

Ohio Art Classic Etch A Sketch Pink
Amazon Price: $17.99 $16.79 Buy Now
(price as of May 20, 2015)
You can now get this in pink!
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Comments

Feb 23, 2013 11:34am
moronkee
May his soul rest in peace.Reading your article brought back childhood memories.I can't remember all the toys I used when I was a teen.You have a good memory.
Thanks for sharing.
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