RIP Andre Cassagnes, Inventor of the Etch A Sketch [updated]

Etch a sketch


The inventor of the beloved Etch A Sketch toy, Andre Cassagnes, has died at age 86, the toy’s manufacturer confirms to NBC News. Cassagnes died Jan. 16 in France.

“Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that,” said Larry Killgallon, president of The Ohio Art Company. “His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time.”

Cassagnes, a French electrician, created the product in the late 1950s when he “stumbled upon the idea of creating a drawing toy with a joystick, glass and aluminum powder,” the Ohio Art Company says on its website. Cassagnes originally called the item the Telecran, and it went into production in Bryan, Ohio in 1950. Owners create art by turning dials that scrape off the alumninum powder that coats the screen, leaving dark lines to outline the picture desired.

Many histories of the Etch A Sketch (including one we wrote many years ago!) give the name Arthur Granjean as the inventor. But…as this article notes…that was due to a mixup:

Since he couldn’t afford to pay for a patent, he borrowed money from an investor who sent his treasurer, Arthur Granjean, to complete the paperwork.

But Mr. Granjean’s name ended up on the patent, helping to obscure Mr. Cassagnes’ role.

When the New York-based National Toy Hall of Fame inducted Etch A Sketch in 1998, it wrongly listed Mr. Granjean as the toy’s creator.

An official history on Ohio Art’s website gives Mr. Cassagnes credit for the invention.

Image of the Etch a Sketch Animator from here.

Etch A Sketch artist Tim George

Etch A Sketch artist Jeff Gagliardi

Etch A Sketch artist George Vlosich III (You may have seen him on Oprah, or Jimmy Kimmel.)

Thank you Andre Cassagnes, for inventing one of the coolest toys eve dreamed of.

Update: Comedian Tom Shillue has made a tribute Etch A Sketch pic of Andre Cassagnes – he gave us permission to post it here (thank you sir!). (Here’s a photo of Mr. Cassagnas for comparison.)