Witty Inventions (Encouragement for Creators)


Ever wonder at all the cool stuff that’s been invented totally by accident? When a great idea suddenly falls in your lap, grab it! It’s a gift from heaven. Stuff happens, and sometimes you just need to go with the flow. That’s what Fred Morrison did. One day in 1938, he and his future wife Lucille were having fun on a beach in Santa Monica, California, tossing a cake pan back and forth. Apparently they appeared to be having so much fun — and the cake pan was spinning through the air so smoothly — that someone offered to purchase Fred’s “flying disc” for 25 cents. The inventor, who’d always been fascinated with aerodynamics, later stated, “That got the wheels turning, because you could buy a cake pan for five cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well … there was a business”!

It would have been easy to laugh off the whole incident, chalking it up as one of the many whimsies of our whacky world. Instead, the couple embraced the weird, and started selling 5-cent cake pans on the beach, at a quarter each! They continued their side business, collecting quite a few quarters, until the U.S. entered World War II. Fred Morrison signed up with the Army Air Force, and flew a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane until he was shot down and taken a prisoner of war. He spent 90 days as a POW, possibly thinking about how to improve the aerodynamic design of his cake pan.

After the war, He designed an improved flying disc, made of plastic, which he called the Whirlo-Way. In 1948, Morrison and a business partner began producing the discs, but following a wave of UFO sightings, they decided to market the toy as the “Flyin-Saucer.”

The two men demonstrated the flying disc at fairs across the country, selling thousands at a buck apiece, to people who were amazed at the toy’s ability to “hover.” Morrison eventually went solo again, and in 1955 he designed a new model, the Pluto Platter, which was essentially the archetype of what we call a frisbee. Morrison patented his design and sold the rights to the Wham-O Company in 1957. It was Wham-O  co-founder Richard Knerr who decided to give the toy the official brand name Frisbee. The name was inspired by the Frisbie Pie Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and harkens back to the flying disc’s origins as nothing more than a cake plate. Morrison hated the name, but in 1982, after receiving over $2 million in royalties, He told Forbes magazine, “I wouldn’t change the name of it for the world.”

So when a crazy idea comes sailing your way, seemingly out of nowhere, be bold and latch onto it. It might be nothing. Then again, it could be what you’ve been hoping for!

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.” (Psalm 8:12 KJV)