The Etch A Sketch

July 12th Celebrates The Etch A Sketch

The popular toy called, “The Etch A Sketch,” went on sale to the consumer in the United States on July 12th 1960, but where did the etch a sketch originate from?

The toy was invented by French electrical technician André Cassagnes in the late 1950s.

While working in a factory that made embossed wall coverings that mimic sculptural bas-relief, he peeled the translucent protective decal off a light-switch plate, and made some marks on it in pencil. He noticed that the marks became visible on the reverse side of the decal. His pencil had raked visible lines through particles of powder, which clung naturally to the decal by means of an electrostatic charge.

After making this discovery, Cassagnes spent five years working on the invention he called L’Ecran Magique, which means the magic screen in English.

Inside the device, static charges hold a mixture of aluminum powder and tiny plastic beads to a clear plastic screen. Knobs control the horizontal and vertical rods that move a stylus where the two meet.

A fairly sophisticated pulley system operates the orthogonal rails that move the stylus around when the knobs are turned. The stylus etches a black line into the powder-coated window to create the drawing. Turning the screen over and giving it a shake erases the picture by recoating it with aluminum powder.

Today’s YouTube video below brought to you by The Daily is amazing drawing being created by only using the Etch A Sketch.

The toy was introduced at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany in 1959, but drew little attention until the Ohio Art Company invested $25,000 for the license.

The company renamed it the Etch A Sketch and began production and marketing the creative toy on July 12th 1960. It was the must-have Christmas toy that year and now more than 100 million have been sold.

I didn’t get one for Christmas when I was a kid, but hands down this has always been one of my favorite toys.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio


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