Today In History — The First Frisbee® Was Invented


January 13, 2016 — It was 49 years ago today that the Wham-O Toy Company started making the toy that is known world-wide today as the Frisbee.

There had been earlier versions, mostly made by inventor Walter Frederick Morrison. He based them on his idea of a spaceship. The earliest one (that actually worked) was named the Pluto Platter. But when Richard Knerr and A.K.”Spud” Melin, who were starting a fledgling toy company called Wham-O saw the early prototype, they convinced Morrison to join with them. The production lines for the Frisbee turned out the first on January 13, 1957.

In fact, some Harvard University Alumni make a claim to the idea as well. When Knerr and Melin traveled around the country to try to boost sales — it did not catch on at first — they took it to some college campuses. At the prestigious Ivy League campus they were told that the students had been “frisbe-ing” for ages, using a tin pie plate. Knerr liked the sound of the term they used and changed it slightly to the spelling we now know. He was unaware that the pie plates that had been used were from the Frisbie Pie Company.

At Popular Mechanics for Kids, Elisha Cuthbert and Jay Baruchel, two of the series’ charming hosts, learn all about frisbees. They learn their history; Elisha Cuthbert learns the trick to flying a concrete frisbee (that you will probably only get to use it one time). And they get to play with lots of other toys: Slinkys®, Teddy Bears (named for President Teddy Roosevelt), model race cars, Play-Doh®, Legos® and Nintendo®. They also learn that playing can be a great way to learn.

In fact, throughout the 72 episodes of Popular Mechanics for Kids, they and their viewers discover that learning about practically anything can be fun — as long as you have the right teacher.

Happy birthday to the Frisbee®.

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