July 12, 1960: The first Etch-A-Sketch goes on sale. Back in the late 1950s Arthur Granjean brought his invention called “L’Ecran Magique,” or the magic screen, to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany. At first, the Ohio Art Company wasn’t interested, but on second look they decided to bring the toy to America and rename it the Etch A Sketch.
The response was fantastic! In fact, Ohio Art thought they would continue to manufacture the toy until noon of Christmas Eve 1960. Instead, they have kept on making them and added other variations to their product line for over forty years.
The Ohio Art Company also has other lines of toys. Their K’s Kids line has soft toys for the youngest children. They are learning/educational toys created to entertain safely as well as to teach new learners a variety of tasks. The Athletic Baby line has toys to engage babies and toddlers physically.
Etch A Sketch now comes in different sizes: classic, travel, pocket, mini, and even digital. They also have a product that adds sounds – 50 different sounds – as you operate the knobs that draw the pictures. Over the years, Ohio Art has tried different colors of casings, but red seems to be preferred by customers. However, the pocket size comes in red, glitter colors and even a glow-in-the-dark version.
The red plastic casing holds a screen that is coated with a mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads. There are two knobs, one controlling horizontal movement and the other vertical movement. As the stylus moves in response to the knob’s turning, it scrapes the screen, leaving the line. The toy truly is magic.
Bonus link: For some amazing pictures using the toy, see Kevin E. Davis’s artwork.
“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” – Frank Zappa
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
“One reassuring thing about modern art is that things can’t be as bad as they are painted.” – unknown
Also on this day, in 1917 miners are deported from Bisbee, Arizona.