Page 3 Profile: Andre Cassagnes, inventor of etch a sketch


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The Independent Online

The mighty Etch A Sketch. Tell me more...

The inventor of the Etch A Sketch has died aged 86 at his home in Paris.

The Ohio Art Company, which still produces the toy, said André Cassagnes died on 16 January. His mechanical toy, which featured in Toy Story, has sold over 100 million copies since it was released in 1959.

How did he stumble across the idea?

It happened while he was working as an electrical technician with metal powders. He found that marks in a coating of aluminium shavings could be seen as a pattern on the reverse of a translucent plate. The toy that resulted, with its red frame, white dials and grey screen that can be cleaned with a quick shake, has maintained a cultish following despite technological advances.

Are the kids still sketching?

Well, the toy's producers seized on a much-publicised political gaffe during last year's US Presidential election. An adviser to Mitt Romney likened his campaign to an Etch A Sketch, admitting the opposition shake it up and they start all over again. They started making blue ones.

Did he come up with any other cool toys?

The inventor forged a reputation as a gifted kite-maker in France during the 1980s, winning numerous competitions for his creations.