Sunday, August 14

What Shape is the Message-bearing Die inside a Magic 8-Ball?

The message-bearing die inside a magic 8-ball is actually an icosahedron die.

The magic 8-ball is a plain plastic sphere that looks extremely similar to an 8-ball used in pool billiards. This is a fun toy and is usually used for seeking advice and even fortune-telling. Albert C. Carter and Abe Bookman invented the magic 8-ball back in 1946. Currently, the toy giant Mattel manufactures and sells the magic 8-ball toy.

How to use a magic 8-ball?

The magic 8-ball is a fun way to make random decisions. You simply need to ask yourself a “yes-or-no” question, shake the ball and turn it over to peek into the small window for the answer.

How was the magic 8-ball invented?

Albert C. Carter was inspired by the spirit-writing device his mother, a clairvoyant, used frequently. In 1944, after a successful collaboration with Abe Bookman, a graduate from the Ohio Mechanics Institute, Albert filed to patent his device which was initially called the “The Syco-Slate”. However, Albert C. Carter passed away before the patent was approved in 1948.

Later on, Abe Bookman made several alterations and improvements to the Syco-Slate and finally encased it in an iridescent crystal ball. Although this design proved unsuccessful, Brunswick Bowling & Billiards, a Chicago-based billiard hall, and the equipment-making company were impressed with the device. In 1950, the Brunswick Billiards commissioned Abe Bookman to create a version of The Syco-Slate in the form of a pool billiard 8-ball.

Experts believe that this idea was inspired by a gag that featured in the popular The Three Stooges movie, You Nazty Spy!, back in 1940.


The popularity of Magic 8-Ball

Although the magic 8-ball was initially sold as a paperweight, it soon became trendy, like most gadgets and toys. It became a must-have accessory on writing desks and toy boxes for several decades.

In 1971, Abe Bookman sold his company to Ideal Toys who began marketing the device as a toy for children. Seventeen years later, in 1987, the company sold the right to magic 8-ball to Tyco Toys which again revitalized the fad by launching a renewed marketing campaign, thus increasing the interest in toys among adults and children alike once again.

Despite having been owned by several different owners throughout these years, the design and implementation of the Magic 8-Ball have changed very little.

How does the Magic 8-Ball work?

The Magic 8-Ball depicts your typical 8-ball used in pool billiards but is significantly larger and hollowed from within. Inside, cylindrical storage contains a white plastic icosahedron dice which floats in 100 ml of Alcohol solution that is dyed dark-blue in color. The 20 sides contain various varieties of non-committal statements, along with affirmative and negative in raised letters. The ball contains a small see-through window at the bottom through which you need to check the answer.

Simply ask yourself any “yes-or-no” question in your mind with the window turned downwards and turn it back up to check the answer.

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