History of Classic Toys, The View Master

Posted by GoGo Goodie on January 18, 2012.

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Welcome back as we continue to dive into the history of classic toys.  Since, here at GoGo Goodie, we have a true love for retro toys these blogs are fun to write!  Today, we explore the View-Master.

Although today we think of the View-Master as a toy, it's original appeal and use was geared towards families and adults.  Prior to the 1930's before the View-Master was introduced, viewing scenic postcards with stereoscopic devises was popular.  Back in the late 1930's while on vacation at the Oregon Caves National, photographer William Gruber met Harold Graves.  Both men had independently already created their own stereoscope and talked about designing a new devise that would feature Kodachrome 16mm color film.

Early Stereoscope

Shortly after there chance meeting, the two men formed a partnership and filed for a patent on on their "Model A" viewer.  In a short time, the devise was then called the View Master and sold by Sawyer's, the company that Graves worked at.  The New York World's Fair in 1939 introduced the View Master to a larger audience and it quickly took over the scenic postcard market.  In the 1940's the US government used the View-Master to help soldiers identify enemy planes, artillery and ships from far away.  They purchased 100,000 View-Masters and six million disks from 1942 till the end of World War II.

1950's View-Master

In the early 1950's Sawyer's bought the main competitor to the View-Master, Tru-Vue.  In doing this, they also gained the rights to releasing Walt Disney Studios product since Tru-Vue owned those licensing rights.  This proved to be a valuable move as sales for Disney products continued to grow with the opening of Disneyland in 1955.

General Aniline & Film purchased Sawyer's / View-Master in 1966 and began marketing the View-Master to children.  Many kid friendly cartoons and toys were featured.  View-Master continued to be sold a couple of times over the next 25 years until Tyco Toys purchased it in 1989 and later merged with Mattel in 1997.  Today, it is part of the Fisher Price line, owned by Mattel.

Thanks for spending time with us!  Leave a comment and let us know what your favorite classic toy is.  


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