Etch A Sketch

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Etch A Sketch

The popular toy, Etch A Sketch, was invented in the 1950s by Frenchman Arthur Granjean, who called it "The Magic Screen." In 1959, Granjean took his invention to a toy fair in Germany, where it was purchased by an American firm, the Ohio Art Company. The toy, renamed Etch A Sketch, was first sold in the United States in 1960 and was a huge success.

Etch A Sketch is a plastic rectangle with a translucent screen in the middle and two knobs below the screen. Two knobs—one for horizontal, one for vertical—control the direction of an uninterrupted line that appears on the screen, allowing the user to "draw." Shaking the device renders the screen blank again. Some talented users have used the toy to create complex works of art.

By the twenty-first century, Etch A Sketch was available in traditional, travel-sized, miniature, and glow-in-the-dark versions. It is also accessible online. It is the most popular drawing toy ever made, having sold over one hundred million units in seventy countries.

—Justin Gustainis

For More Information

The Etch A Sketch Book. Palo Alto, CA: Klutz Press,1996.

Etch A Sketch (official Web site). (accessed February 26, 2002).