www.whyville.net Sep 30, 2012 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Toy History: Etch-A-Sketch

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This week I have chosen to feature another toy developed to tap into the imagination and creativity of children: the Etch-A-Sketch. An Etch-A-Sketch is composed of a gray screen and a red frame, with two white knobs along the bottom. Aluminum powder is deposited on the underside of the screen when the knobs are turned, creating lines.

The knob on the right makes vertical lines; the left, horizontal. The Etch-A-Sketch has been featured on the Toy Industry Association's list of the greatest toys of the 20th century, as well as History's Best Toys, a list made by Time. But just how did this drawing pad of sorts become so popular?

It all began in the late 1950's with Frenchman Arthur Granjean. He created the first Etch-A-Sketch toy, with its original name "L'Ecran Magique", meaning "the magic screen". In 1959, at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, Granjean showed off his new invention. Although buzz about the toy was low at first, the Ohio Art Company saw it and decided to take a chance selling it. It was now renamed "Etch-A-Sketch".

Television advertisement for the toy began in 1960, with an incredible reaction. By Christmastime that year, the demand for the toy was so high that Ohio Art continued to produce Etch-A-Sketches up until noon of Christmas Eve so that they could be shipped in time for all of the customers in California to buy them as Christmas presents. The success of the Etch-A-Sketch has never dwindled since this event over 50 years ago.

The Etch-A-Sketch is still iconic in pop culture today. Movies such as Toy Story and Elf (from 1995 and 2003, respectively) showcase the toy's uses for writing messages and making intricate designs and pictures. Over the years, artists have perfected the Etch-A-Sketch's knob system to make breathtaking works of art, such as images of famous buildings and people. A few of these Etch-A-Sketch masterpieces are pictured below. The Etch-A-Sketch is definitely a timeless plaything that lets people of all ages be creative and have fun with just a turn of a knob.

Thank you for reading this week's edition of "Toy History". Check back next week for the interesting back story of another quintessential children's toy!


Author's Note:Sources: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2049243_2048656_2049155,00.html


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