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Fascinating facts about the invention
of the
Etch A Sketch by Arthur Granjean in 1959.
ETCH A SKETCH®
Its bright red frame isn't showing signs of gray.  Its silver-gray drawing surfaces hasn't lost its shine.  Its width still measures a trim of 9 ½ inches… but the Etch A Sketch Magic Screen® is almost 40 years old.  It seems like only yesterday when the first Etch A Sketch® toys were produced on July 12, 1960.  Here's the story…
In the late 1950's, a man by the name of Arthur Granjean invented something he called ``L'Ecran Magique", the magic screen, in his garage.  In 1959, he took his drawing toy to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany.  The Ohio Art Company saw it but had no interest in the toy.  When Ohio Art saw the toy a second time, they decided to take a chance on the product.  The L'Ecran Magique was soon renamed the Etch A Sketch® and became the most popular drawing toy in the business. In the 1960, Ohio Art used television to advertise the Etch A Sketch®.  Etch A Sketch
The response was so incredible that the company decided to continue manufacturing them until noon Christmas Eve 1960.  The Etch A Sketches® were then immediately shipped to the West Coast so people in California could buy Etch A Sketch® on Christmas Eve and have them for Christmas.

The Etch A Sketch® has changed very little over the years.  In the 1970s, Ohio Art offered hot pink and blue frames.  But people still wanted the bright red frames that were so popular. The print on the frame has changed slightly, but the inner workings have remained exactly the same.  The screen's reverse side is coated with a mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads.  The left and right knobs control the horizontal and vertical rods, moving the stylus where the two meet.  When the stylus moves, it scrapes the screen leaving the line you see. The knobs have changed slightly. The new shape has a different edge for easier handling and turning.

What makes the Etch a Sketch® so popular? It has influenced a generation of artists who have made a road for themselves to press; magazines, newspapers, and TV.  The Etch A Sketch® club often features these artists in its newsletter.  The Etch A Sketch® Club was formed in 1978 and has an average of 2000 members, ranging from age two to eighty-two.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Toys  from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
The Etch A Sketch Book
40 pages Book & toy edition (November 1996) / Klutz, Inc
Book and Etch A Sketch are permanently wed in this package, glued together on the same boardstock backcover.
Ohio Art: The World of Toys
by Lisa Kerr, Jim Gilcher, Adam Griffith (Photo)
/ Paperback:/ Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.; (1998)
Most people know the toy "Etch A Sketch," but relatively few know that Ohio Art Company produced it and some of America's most beautifully lithographed popular toys. Over 400 color photographs of toys from the 1920s through the 1980s and the text explore the evolution of Ohio Art.

ON THE WEB:
Etch A Sketch
Official Etch A Sketch web site. Lots do do and lots to see. Read the privacy statement.
(URL: www.etch-a-sketch.com)
Ohio Arts Company
The official web address for the Etch A Sketch manufacturer. Information on Etxh A Sketch and their many other products. Read the privacy statement.
(URL: www.world-of-toys.com)
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Featured Arthur Granjean in 1997 for his invention of the Etch A Sketch.
(URL: web.mit.edu/invent/iow/etchy.html)

Online Etch A Sketch
Draw online, its fun and it really works!
(URL: www.etch-a-sketch.com/html/onlineetch.htm)
George's Art Gallery
At age 18, the Topps trading card company commissioned George Vlosich III to produce the 9 Etch-A-Sketches as special inserts for their 1998 Topps baseball trading cards.
(URL: www.gvetchedintime.com/Personal/aboutpersonal/aboutpersonal.htm)
Online Etch A Sketch
Use arrow keys to draw and the space bar to clear. POP-UPS.
(URL: www.arniie.com/sections/user/etch.php)


HOW IT WORKS:
The magic screen upon which your drawings appear is glass, covered with protective clear plastic film. Inside, aluminum powder and plastic beads respond to each turn of the knobs. The left and right knobs control the horizontal and vertical rods, moving the stylus where the two meet.  When the stylus moves, it scrapes the screen leaving the line you see.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • There are 9 different types of Etch A Sketch®!
  • There have been many different colors, shapes and sizes of Etch A Sketch®, but the nuts and bolts of what makes Etch A Sketch® unique remains unchanged.
  • The largest Etch A Sketch® ever was a gigantic Etch A Sketch®, only the screen was made of 144 total Etch A Sketches®, 72 on each side.  Surrounding the collection of Etch A Sketches® was bright red Etch A Sketch® frame and its white knobs.  In addition, the work of art was qualified for inclusion in the Guiness Book of World Records. 
  • Over 100 million children (and adults) in 67 countries have been drawn to its irresistible white knobs for endless hours of etching fun.

 

"The Etch A Sketch(R) product name and the configuration of the Etch A Sketch(R) product are registered trademarks owned by The Ohio Art Company."

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised May 2, 2005.
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