Saturday, February 13, 2010

RIP: Walter Frederick Morrison (1920-2010)

Occasionally an ordinary person living an ordinary life does something ordinary which ends up benefitting everybody, thereby making the world a little better, a little happier.  So it was with Walter Morrison, who died a few days ago aged 90.

Walter who?

You won't find Walt's name amongst the great scientists, politicians, adventurers or philosophers, but he has brought smiles and laughter to millions, children and adults alike.  Walt was the inventor of the Frisbee.

From Wikipedia:
Walter Fredrick "Fred" Morrison (January 23, 1920 – February 9, 2010) was an American inventor and entrepreneur, best known as the inventor of the Frisbee.
Morrison claimed that the original idea for a flying disc toy came to him in 1937, while throwing a popcorn can lid with his girlfriend, Lu, whom he later married. The popcorn lid soon dented which led to the discovery that cake pans flew better and were more common. Morrison and Lu developed a little business selling "Flyin' Cake Pans" on the beaches of Santa Monica, California..

During WW2 he learned something of aeronautics flying his P-47 Thunderbolt in Italy. He was shot down and was a prisoner of war for 48 days.

In 1946, he sketched out a design (called the Whirlo-Way) for the world's first flying disc. In 1948 an investor, Warren Franscioni, paid for molding the design in plastic. They named it the Flyin-Saucer. In 1954, Fred bought more of the Saucers from the original molders to sell at local fairs, but found he could produce his own disc more cheaply. In 1955, he and Lu designed the Pluto Platter, the archetype of all modern flying discs. On January 23, 1957, they sold the rights for the Pluto Platter to the Wham-O toy company. Initially Wham-O marketed the toy as the "Pluto Platter", but in 1958 they added the name Frisbee, a changed spelling of the name of the Frisbie Pie Company.
Pictured above:  Walter Fredrick Morrison promoting his Pluto Platters, the forerunner of the Frisbee, in the 1950s.

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