Friday, January 28, 2011

The First Flight of the Frisbee

Taken from:

Every object has a history, and behind that history an inventor, the person who thought it up first. Sometimes who was first can be a topic for hot debate: often several people independent of each other will all think of the same good idea at around the same time and will later have to argue "No it was me, I thought of it first." Many people have claimed to have invented the Frisbee.

The Frisbie Baking Company (1871-1958) of Bridgeport, Connecticut, made pies that were sold to many New England colleges. Hungry college students soon discovered that the empty pie tins could be tossed and caught, providing endless hours of game and sport. Many colleges have claimed to be the home of 'he who was first to fling.' Yale College has even argued that in 1820, a Yale undergraduate named Elihu Frisbie grabbed a passing collection tray from the chapel and flung it out into the campus, thereby becoming the true inventor of the Frisbie and winning glory for Yale. That tale is unlikely to be true since the words 'Frisbie's Pies' was embossed in all the original pie tins and from the word 'Frisbie' was coined the common name for the toy.

In 1948, a Los Angeles building inspector named Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the Frisbie that could fly further and with better accuracy than a tin pie plate. Morrison's father was also an inventor, who invented the automotive sealed-beam headlight. Another interesting tidbit was that Morrison had just returned to America after World War II, where he had been a prisoner in the infamous Stalag 13. His partnership with Warren Franscioni, who was also a war veteran, ended before their product had achieved any real success.

Morrison (after his split with Franscioni) produced a plastic Frisbie called the Pluto Platter, to cash in on the growing popularity of UFOs with the American public. The Pluto Platter has become the basic design for all Frisbies. The outer third of the Frisbie disc is called the 'Morrison Slope', listed in the patent. Rich Knerr and A.K. 'Spud' Melin were the owners of a new toy company called 'Wham-O'. Knerr and Melin also marketed the Hula-Hoop, the Super Ball and the Water Wiggle. They pair first saw Morrison's Pluto Platter in late 1955. They liked what they saw and convinced Morrison to sell them the rights to his design. With a deal signed, Wham-O began production (1/13/1957) of more Pluto Platters. The next year, the original Frisbie Baking Company shut down and coincidentally Fred Morrison was awarded a patent (Design patent 183,626) for his flying disc. Morrison received over one million dollars in royalties for his invention.

The word 'Frisbee' is pronounced the same as the word 'Frisbie'. Rich Knerr (Wham-O) was in search of a catchy new name to help increase sales, after hearing about the original use of the terms 'Frisbie' and 'Frisbie-ing'. He borrowed from the two words to create the registered trademark Frisbee ®. Sales soared for the toy, due to Wham-O's clever marketing of Frisbee playing as a new sport. In 1964, the first professional model went on sale. Ed Headrick was the inventor at Wham-O who patented Wham-O's designs for the modern frisbee (U.S. patent 3,359,678). Ed Headrick's frisbee with its band of raised ridges called the Rings of Headrick had stablized flight as opposed to the wobbly flight of its predecessor the Pluto Platter.

In 1967, high school students in Maplewood, New Jersey, invented Ultimate Frisbee, a recognized sport that is a cross between football, soccer and basketball. Ten years later, a form of Frisbee golf was introduced, complete with professional playing courses and associations.

Sotiria, why do you like Frisbee so much? How do you feel when you play this sport? What else do you usually do in your free time? Thodoris could answer the last question, as well! 


  1. Hello Christina!!

    Thank you for the article about the story of the frisbee. It is very interesting. Ι am fond of this sport, because I find it very amusing and funny. We can play it wherever and as we like. Its rules are not strict or rigid. On the contrary, we make the rules and I adore it. However, it has a fault...I cannot play it alone.

    First of all, in my free time, I am keen on blogging (Oh, my god, it is true!! It is fantastic!!...and thank you!). Moreover,I usually listen to music, especially to rock, jazz or pizzica. I am mad about pizzica. It is a type of traditional music and dance which comes from South Italy. In addition to this, I am not only interested in reading books, but also writing poetry and plays. Furthermore, I love the sea with my whole soul and I really like swimming for hours. However, I loathe crowded beaches. I prefer the small bays with few people. The sea makes me feel calm and happy without any stress. Last but not least, I I adore cycling. I love my bike. I also feel free because I can go everywhere I want with my boyfriend and my friends. It makes me feel blissful.

    See you soon,

  2. Pizzica sounds really interesting! You should play it some day in the classroom so that we have a taste! :) What you have said about the sea and nature is also very true- the ultimate soothing activities!