55 years ago today the Wham-O toy company rolled out their first batch of the aerodynamic plastic discs known as the Frisbee.
William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport Connecticut in 1871. Students from the nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling “Frisbie.”
In 1948 Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Fransciioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the “Flying Saucer” that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates. After the two split, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the “Pluto Platter.”
In 1958, a year after the toy’s first release, Wham-O–the company changed its name to the “Frisbee disc,” misspelling the name of the historic pie company. A company designer, Ed Headrick, patented the design for the modern Frisbee in December 1967, adding a band of raised ridges on the disc’s surface–called the Rings–to stabilize flight. By aggressively marketing Frisbee-playing as a new sport, Wham-O sold over 100 million units of its famous toy by 1977.
Since it’s release games such as Ultimate Frisbee and Frisbee Golf has added to the demand of the toy.
* The U.S. Navy spent nearly $400,000 studying the use of FRISBEE–like discs molded into battlefield flares to be launched from low flying airplanes. The Navy also developed a mechanical FRISBEE launcher.
* The world group marathon record for Frisbee play is 1,198 hours – nearly 45 days. The record for continual play with two people is 126 hours.
* The game of “Ultimate” has been demonstrated to require a higher cardiovascular fitness level than any other field game.
* There are more than 1,000 teams now competing at the college and club level in Ultimate; in 1972, there were two.
* There are over 30 different periodicals published on flying disc sports. In the last 20 years, 13 books have been published on the subject.
* There are more than 700 Disc Golf courses in the U.S. These courses are permanent installations, usually located in a public park, where players actually “drive” and “putt” with specially styled discs.
* The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) is located in Sweden. There are 26 member countries.
* The men’s outdoor flying disc world record distance toss is 211.32 meters (693.3 feet), made by Scott Stokely of Ft. Collins, Colo., in 1998. The women’s long distal record of 136.31 meters was established by Anni Kreml of San Francisco during 1994 U.S. Open Flying Disc Championships on Aug. 20,1994, in Fort Collins, Colo.
* The first school for FRISBEE–catching dog training was called the Monterey of FRISBEE Dog Studies in Monterey, Calif. The first all–dog FRISBEE competition was held on Nov. 13, 1974 at California State University, Fullerton.
* Rare and flying discs have been known to sell for up to $500.
* The official Frisbee is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, who bought the toy from Wham-O in 1994.