Frisbee inventor Fred Morrison dies at 90
The origins of the ubiquitous Frisbee, friend to picnicgoers and college kids everywhere, are shrouded in legend. But the disc's lineage can in fact be traced back to one man, Fred Morrison, who died Feb. 9 at his home in Monroe, Utah. He had been ill with lung cancer.
Mr. Morrison got the idea for a flying-saucer toy in 1937 when, during a family Thanksgiving feast in southern California, he and his girlfriend entertained themselves by tossing a popcorn-tin lid back and forth in the backyard.
The lid eventually dented, ruining its aerodynamic potential. Mr. Morrison experimented with a sturdier cake pan, which he and Lucile sold on weekends at beaches and parks in the Los Angeles area.
After serving as a fighter-bomber pilot during World War II and enduring 48 days as a POW in a German stalag, Mr. Morrison went to work as a carpenter. But he never lost sight of his flying-cake-pan entrepreneurial dreams.
In the 1950s, he designed an aerodynamic disc made of plastic. The nation was then caught up in UFO fever; Mr. Morrison called his invention the Pluto Platter and marketed it at fairs in California by dressing up as an astronaut.
Hula Hoop manufacturer Wham-O Mfg. took notice of the Pluto Platter's brisk sales and bought the rights in 1957, renaming it "Frisbee" when an executive noticed Ivy Leaguers' penchant for tossing around pie pans from the Frisbie Pie Co.
Mr. Morrison earned seven figures in royalties. And the world was never quite the same.
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