Magic 8-Ball

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Magic 8-Ball
8 ball face.jpg
Type Novelty toy
Inventor Albert Carter
Abe Bookman
Company Mattel
Availability 1950–present
Materials Plastic
Alcohol
Blue dye
Official website

The Magic 8-Ball is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice, developed in the 1950s and manufactured by Mattel. It is often used in fiction, often for humor related to its giving accurate, inaccurate, or otherwise statistically improbable answers.

Origin[edit]

An 8-ball was used as a fortune-telling device in the 1940 Three Stooges short, You Nazty Spy!, and called a "magic ball". 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[1] 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-Seer. Carter died sometime before the patent was granted in 1948. Bookman made improvements to The Syco-Seer, 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.[2]

Design[edit]

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, icosahedral 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 many 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.

Possible answers[edit]

The 20 answers inside a standard Magic 8-Ball are:

It is certain
It is decidedly so
Without a doubt
Yes definitely
You may rely on it
As I see it, yes
Most likely
Outlook good
Yes
Signs point to yes
Reply hazy try again
Ask again later
Better not tell you now
Cannot predict now
Concentrate and ask again
Don't count on it
My reply is no
My sources say no
Outlook not so good
Very doubtful

Ten of the possible answers are affirmative (), five are negative (), and five are non-committal ().

This shows the 20 faces of the icosahedral die inside the Mattel toy "Magic 8-Ball", with the answer on each face.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Magic 8-Ball from Alabe Crafts (1946)". ToyTales.ca. 
  2. ^ Walsh, Tim. (2004). The Playmakers: Amazing Origins of Timeless Toys, pp. 94–5. Keys Publishing, Sarasota. ISBN 0-9646973-4-3.

Patents[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Egnor, Dan; Hunnicutt, Heath (1997–99). "Procedure". The Inscrutable 8-Ball Revealed. OFB. Retrieved July 3, 2012.