A Magic 8 Ball response
The Magic 8 Ball is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice, developed in the 1950s and manufactured by Mattel. The user asks a yes-or-no question to the large plastic ball, then turns it over to reveal a written answer which appears on the surface of the toy. The Magic 8-Ball is styled after a Billiards ball.
An 8-ball was used as a fortune-telling device in the 1940 Three Stooges short, You Nazty Spy!, and called a "magic ball".[improper synthesis?] While Magic 8 Ball did not exist in its current form until 1950, the functional component was invented by Albert C. Carter, inspired by a spirit writing device used by his mother, Mary, a Cincinnati clairvoyant. When Carter approached store owner Max Levinson about stocking the device, Levinson called in his brother-in-law Abe Bookman, a graduate of Ohio Mechanics Institute. In 1944, Carter filed for a patent for the cylindrical device, assigning it in 1946 to Bookman, Levinson, and another partner in what came to be Alabe Crafts, Inc. (Albert and Abe). Alabe marketed and sold the cylinder as The Syco-Slate. Carter died sometime before the patent was granted in 1948. Bookman made improvements to The Syco-Slate, and in 1948, it was encased in an iridescent crystal ball. Though unsuccessful, the revamped product caught the attention of Chicago's Brunswick Billiards. In 1950 they commissioned Alabe Crafts to make a version in the form of a traditional black-and-white 8-ball.
The Magic 8 Ball is a hollow plastic sphere resembling an oversized, black-and-white 8-ball. Inside, a cylindrical reservoir contains a white, plastic icosahedron floating in alcohol dyed dark blue. Each of the die's 20 faces has an affirmative, negative, or non-committal statement printed in raised letters. These messages are read through a window on the ball's bottom.
To use the ball, it must be held with the window initially facing down. After "asking the ball" a yes–no question, the user then turns the ball so that the window faces up, setting in motion the liquid and die inside. When the die floats to the top and one face presses against the window, the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message as white letters on a blue background. Although most users shake the ball before turning it upright, the instructions warn against doing so to avoid white bubbles, which interfere with the performance of the ball itself.
The 20 answers inside a standard Magic 8 Ball are:
Ten of the possible answers are affirmative (●), while five are non-committal (●) and five are negative (●).
In popular culture
The Magic 8 Ball appeared in the 1995 Disney/Pixar animated film Toy Story, with a reference to the "Don't count on it" reply by the character Sheriff Woody. A Magic 8 Ball film was under development in 2006 by Universal Pictures with Tom Shadyac attached, but moved to Paramount Pictures by 2010. Neither of the studios produced a film. In June 2019, Mattel Films announced the film was being produced by Blumhouse Productions with director Jeff Wadlow and writers Jillian Jacobs and Chris Roach.
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- McNary, Dave (June 4, 2019). "Magic 8 Ball Movie in Development at Blumhouse, Mattel". Variety. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- U.S. Patent 2,452,730—Liquid Filled Dice Agitator ca. 1944
- U.S. Patent 3,119,621—Liquid filled die agitator containing a die having raised indicia on the facets thereof, 1962
- U.S. Patent 3,168,315—Amusement Device ca. 1961