Etch A Sketch Inventor Dies at 86

Andre Cassagnes, the French electrician who invented the famous Etch A Sketch toy more than 50 years ago, has died at age 86.  His obituary from CNN.com:

Cassagnes created what would become the Etch A Sketch in his garage in 1950. The drawing toy was made up of a joystick, glass and aluminum powder.

Initially dubbed the Telecran, the toy was renamed L’Ecran Magique, or ‘The Magic Screen,’ and made its debut at a toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1959.

Fascinated by the invention, American Henry Winzeler, founder and president of The Ohio Art Company, licensed L’Ecran Magique for $25,000 and introduced it as Etch A Sketch in the United States in 1960.

Winzeler connected Cassagnes with Jerry Burger, an engineer at the company, so they could collaborate to improve the toy’s drawing capability.

Among the changes made to the Etch A Sketch in 1960 was replacing the joystick with two white knobs in the left and right corners of the screen. The idea was to make the toy look like the hot new adult toy of the time: a television.

It quickly became the most popular selling toy during the Christmas season that year, according to the manufacturer. Since then, the company has sold more than 150 million of them.

 

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