Etch A Sketch was sold to Toronto game and toy company Spin Master Corp., according to a February 11 press release. In the release, the Ohio Art Company said the sale was part of an overall effort to focus on the metal lithography portion of their business and to “more effectively utilize” the company’s Bryan, Ohio, facility.
The invention of the Etch A Sketch is attributed to Andre Cassagnes. In the mid-to-late 1950s, the french electrician designed a unique drawing tool, which used a joystick to move a stylus through aluminum powder. As a result, the silver powder was pushed away from the glass screen, leaving a dark gray line.
Although the modern versions are more sophisticated, the basic premise remained the same for nearly 60 years.
After entering and winning a French invention contest, Andre sought a patent for his unique drawing tool. However, as the paperwork was paid for and signed by his accountant, Arthur Granjean, the accountant, was credited by many sources as the inventor of the Etch A Sketch.
Tech Times reports Cassagnes displayed and attempted to sell rights to the drawing tool at the 1959 Nuremberg, Germany, Toy Fair. Although manufacturers were hesitant to invest in the unusual toy, the Ohio Art Company eventually agreed to purchase the Etch A Sketch license for $25,000.
Ohio Art Company admits it took a lot of “trial and error.” However, they company perfected the Etch A Sketch product and began selling them just in time for Christmas 1960.
Although the classic Etch A Sketch, with the simply red case and white knobs, is still available, Ohio Art Company has introduced numerous variations over the last 55 years.
— Etch A Sketch (@EtchASketchUSA) January 22, 2016
In addition to adding size and color variations, the company released several special editions based on children’s movies and television programs. Other popular versions of the Etch A Sketch include The Doodle Sketch, the Etch A Sketch Animator, and the Plug and Play Etch A Sketch.
Unfortunately, the Ohio Art Company began experiencing financial difficulties in the late 2000s.
After filing bankruptcy, the company was forced to move their Etch A Sketch production out of the Bryan, Ohio, facility. Although they received stark criticism for moving production to China, company officials said the move was necessary to cut costs.
Eleven years later, the Ohio Art Company announced their Etch A Sketch and Doodle Sketch brands were sold to Toronto game and toy company Spin Master Corp.
— Etch A Sketch (@EtchASketchUSA) January 6, 2016
In addition to allowing the company to focus on its metal lithography business, the sale will help the Ohio Art company give back to the Bryan, Ohio, community. The Ohio Art Company President Martin Killgallon explains.
“We are very pleased to be able to partner with these local businesses to provide them with quality space and support services and, most importantly, keep these companies and jobs right here in Bryan. Our commitment to the community is important to our strategy and we look forward to continuing to partner with other local businesses.”
Founded in 1908, the Ohio Art Company is one of the world’s leading toy companies and metal lithographers. With the sale of the Etch A Sketch and Doodle Sketch brands, the company will focus on the lithography.
“What started more than a century ago as a manufacturer of metal picture frames, has become a profitable business of precision printing, beautiful color reproduction protected to withstand the rigors of stamping and fabrication for major consumer goods companies.”
In the press release, the Ohio Art Company also assured fans Spin Master Corp. will continue to manufacture Etch A Sketch drawing toys.