Etch A Sketch Inventor Andre Cassagnes Dies Age 86

Andre Cassagnes the inventor of the classic 1950’s art toy the ‘Etch A Sketch’ has died in Paris, age 86. The devise which was marketed by the Ohio Art Company, a US-based firm sold more than 100 million units of the toy.

In the late 1950’s, Andre Cassagnes, an electrician and inventor in France, stumbled upon the idea of creating a drawing toy with an etching device using glass and aluminum powder. Cassagnes called this early concept, the “Telecran,” which, through relationships with Jerry Burger, Chief Engineer at the Ohio Art Company they developed and perfected the system. The toy they developed is virtually the same system that is at the core of the Etch A Sketch today.

Going low-tech may seem counter intuitive, but one industry analyst said there’s still room for toys that don’t involve a screen or batteries.”While technology is certainly prevalent in our lives, and our children’s lives, it does not mean that tech-less toys cannot succeed,” Anita Frazier, analyst at the NPD Group, said via email. Even though it’s old-school, Frazier said Etch A Sketch “has a lot going for it. It’s simple and intuitive for kids to use [and] it has the nostalgia factor going for it with parents.”

The Etch A Sketch, with its familiar red-frame, grey screen and two white dials, allows children to draw something and shake it away to start again. It was given a new lease of life by being represented in the popular Toy Story films, appealing to a new generation of toy buyers.

“Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that,” the firm’s president Larry Killgallon said. “His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time.” Andre Cassagnes also produced some of the most successful competition kites in France during the 1980s. He never became a rich man from any of his inventions.

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