History of Classic Toys, Magic 8 Ball

Posted by GoGo Goodie on January 25, 2012.

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So our love affair with classic and retro toys continues today with the history of the Magic 8 Ball.  I must admit this is one of my personal favorites and I even have the Magic 8 Ball app on my phone....just for those hard to answer questions!

Albert C. Carter invented the predecessor to the Magic 8 Ball in the early 1940's.  He was inspired by a so called spirit writing device that his clairvoyant mother used for telling fortunes.  Carter approached store owner Max Levinson about his interest in stocking the fortune telling device.  Carter also enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, Abe Bookman, for the manufacturing of the device.  Then in 1944 Carter filed for a patent on a liquid filled dice agitator and assigned it to himself, Bookman, Levinson and two other people. Under the name of Alabe Crafts (Alabe stood for the first two letters in Albert's name combined with Abe's name) they began to manufacture the device.  The fortune telling device was originally named The Syco-Slate and later changed to Syco-Seer. 


Syco-Slate & Syco-Seer, The Predecessors of the Magic 8 Ball

It is not clear what happened to Carter, but by 1948 when a patent was granted, Carter was reported as dead.  Some reports suggest he was an alcoholic and left the company to Bookman prior to 1948.  Bookman made changes to the Syco-Seer to make it resemble a crystal ball.  Sales were not improved with the new design of the Syco-Seer, but the new round shape caught the eye of Brunswick Billards.  Brunswick asked Bookman to manufacture a promotional Syco-Seer in the image of an 8 ball.  These promotional 8 balls proved to be extremely popular.  So, when the Brunswick contract expired Bookman began selling the Magic 8 Ball to stores.  They were originally sold to adults as paper weights but when they began to market them as toys the popularity soared.  


Mattel owns the rights to the Magic 8 Ball today and manufactures about 1 million balls each year...and now you know the rest of the story!

Thanks for stopping by GoGo Goodie and as for your future...my sources say Outlook Good!


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