It’s January 23, 1957 and Wham-O Toy company is rolling out a brand new product.  It’s a aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.

The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in 1871.

Frisbie Pie Company

Frisbie Pie Company

Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling “Frisbie!” as they let go. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the “Flying Saucer” that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates.

frisbie_pie

After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the “Pluto Platter”–an attempt to cash in on the public craze over space and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs).

Walter Fredrick Morrison promoting his Pluto Platters, the forerunner of the Frisbee, in the 1950s.

Walter Fredrick Morrison promoting his Pluto Platters, the forerunner of the Frisbee, in the 1950s.

In 1958, a year after the toy’s first release, Wham-O–the company behind such top-sellers as the Hula-Hoop, the Super Ball and the Water Wiggle–changed its name to the Frisbee disc, misspelling the name of the historic pie company. A company designer, Ed Headrick, patented the design for the modern Frisbee in December 1967, adding a band of raised ridges on the disc’s surface–called the Rings–to stabilize flight. By aggressively marketing Frisbee-playing as a new sport, Wham-O sold over 100 million units of its famous toy by 1977.

The Frisbee story starts in college. Late 19th-century students at Yale and other New England universities played catch with pie plates

The Frisbee story starts in college. Late 19th-century students at Yale and other New England universities played catch with pie plates

High school students in Maplewood, New Jersey, invented Ultimate Frisbee, a cross between football, soccer and basketball, in 1967. In the 1970s, Headrick himself invented Frisbee Golf, in which discs are tossed into metal baskets; there are now hundreds of courses in the U.S., with millions of devotees. There is also Freestyle Frisbee, with choreographed routines set to music and multiple discs in play, and various Frisbee competitions for both humans and dogs–the best natural Frisbee players.

Today, at least 60 manufacturers produce the flying discs–generally made out of plastic and measuring roughly 20-25 centimeters (8-10 inches) in diameter with a curved lip. The official Frisbee is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, who bought the toy from Wham-O in 1994.

Advertisements

4 responses

  1. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

    Like

    • Are you still having the problem. The first item is an imbedded video of the frisbee commercial from youtube. It does have have delay. I created the post so I don’t see any delay and I haven’t had anyone else comment as such.

      Like

  2. Birgit says:

    Ok I am partially right as I thought the Frisbee was much older than 1957. Amazing that such simple thing like the Frisbee and the hula hoop made millions.

    Like