Artistic talent or not, every kid could produce abstract masterpieces with a Spirograph. This geometric drawing toy was introduced to the world at a toy expo in 1965. Kenner Toys recognized a good thing when they saw it and acquired the rights to market it in America. It’s been a beloved staple of arts and crafts toys ever since.
What does it do? Well, it only draws the coolest, grooviest, most fantastical shapes ever! The Spirograph set comes with a variety of plastic shapes, like circles, triangles and spirals. The shapes are ridged so they can engage with other shapes like connected gears. A larger shape can be pinned to a piece of paper so it remains stationary and a smaller shape can fit inside it. Placing the tip of a pen or pencil through a hole in the moving shape traces patterns as the smaller shape’s teeth follow the larger shape’s edge. A myriad combinations can be achieved by arranging different shape configurations and no two drawings are the same.
Spirograph doodles were far from random designs. They were actually based on the mathematic principle of roulettes and already known to the brainier among us as trochoids, so technically this toy fell under the educational category. Kids didn’t seem to care about that stigma though, because Spirographs mesmerized their users for hours at a time. It took a bit of practice to become adept at tracing curves without unseating the gear teeth and a little more practice to lay out complicated shape frameworks that produced the most spectacular drawings. Both boys and girls enjoyed the unisex toy, building up a veritable gallery of their Spirograph art.
Well into its fourth decade, Spirograph is still popular with youngsters because it can’t really become obsolete. Kids love to draw and doodle and will cover every available surface with scribblings (sorry about the dining room wall, mom). Spirograph allows them to create outlandish, yet geometrically correct, pictures and if a few of them take an interest in math because of it, maybe they’ll remember to thank the captivating toy in their Nobel acceptance speech.
Did you spend hours as a kid drawing with a Spirograph? Did a few of your creations even end up on the coveted refrigerator door? Share all of your Spirograph memories with us in our comments section as we tip our hats to this wonderfully creative toy.