Frisbee inventorWalter Morrison

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When he was 17, and at a Thanksgiving dinner party, Morrison and his girlfriend tossed the lid from a can of popcorn back and forth for fun. Later, they switched to a cake pan, because it flew better. A year later, while at the beach, someone saw them and offered 25 cents for the pan. “That got the wheels turning, because you could buy a cake pan for 5 cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well, there was a business,” Morrison said later. The couple sold so many it funded their marriage. In World War II, he served as a pilot (and was a prisoner of war). In 1946 Morrison put his aeronautical skills to work, drawing out his own design for an aerodynamically improved flying disc. By then Morrison had married his girlfriend, and they dubbed the toy “Whirlo-Way”. By 1948 the disc was being made of plastic and called “Flyin-Saucers” to capitalize on the UFO sightings craze of the time. In 1955 Morrison had his final design, now dubbed the “Pluto Platter”, and in 1957 he sold the rights to toy company Wham-O. The company ramped up production and, when they found some people called them a “Frisbie” after a pie plate with that brand, they dubbed it the “Frisbee”. “I thought the name was a horror. Terrible,” Morrison said. But after getting millions in royalties, he changed his mind. “I wouldn’t change the name of it for the world.” Wham-O has sold more than 200 million Frisbees. Morrison died at home on February 9 from cancer, at age 90.

From This is True for 14 February 2010