Spirograph’s history is unique and unexpected. It was invented by a British electronic engineer, Denys Fisher, in 1962. His company, King Fisher Engineering, did work for NATO and he was a bomb detonator designer. Spirograph grew out of one of his inventions that he was trying to apply to industrial matters. His family noticed the patterns that his invention created and suggested marketing it as a game. While Mr. Fisher passed away in 2002, his game will always be remembered.
Spirograph was originally an educational game and came on the market in 1965. The Nuremberg International Toy Fair helped it gain popularity. Everyone loved the patterns, shapes, various effects, and designs. Spirograph was unique because it used only plastic gears and colored pens. It was thought to be the best educational game from 1966 until 1969.
Spirograph was originally produced and marketed by Kenner Toys. Kenner Toys was founded by the Steiners in 1947 in Ohio. The company name comes from the street where they were located, Kenner Street. Kenner Toys changed hands several times - they were bought by General Mills in 1967, then Tonka in 1987, and finally Hasbro, Inc. bought Tonka in 1991. In 1999 they got rid of the Kenner Toys name and became known only as Hasbro.
Spirograph remains popular today. All ages love the game and it is even used in schools to help students with math. Because it is such a unique toy, it can be appreciated by everyone and won’t become dated. My older sister and I both got one of these sets back in the late 1960's. She got the "big girl" version, Spirograph, I got the toddler version, Spirotot. My Dad tells the story of me announcing to everyone that year when asked what I got for Christmas, "I got Spirotot!!" (Sorry, family joke.)
A complete set sells for about $40 on eBay as you can see from these completed listings:
So check for this item at thrift stores, garage sales, and estate sales. And confess, how many of you had one of these growing up?