André Cassagnes, creator of Etch A Sketch, Dies at the Age of 86

January 25, 2013 | The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and its members join in mourning the passing of André Cassagnes, an electrical technician and inventor of the world-famous drawing toy, Etch A Sketch. Mr. Cassagnes died on January 16, 2013 in a suburb of Paris, France.

Mr. Cassagnes was born just outside of Paris on September 23, 1926. During his teen years he worked at his parent’s bakery before becoming an electrician at Lincrusta Co., a French manufacturer of artificial seat and picture frame coverings that utilized aluminum powder in the production process.

In the late 1950s, Mr. Cassagnes was installing a factory light switch plate at work that was covered with a translucent decal. After peeling the decal from the light switch plate, he made some pencil marks on the decal face and noticed that the image transferred to the opposite face … this became the origin of the idea to create a drawing toy. Mr. Cassagnes’ toy was seen by U.S. company Ohio Art at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1959; Ohio Art eventually decided to manufacture the product under the name “Etch A Sketch,” launching it in time for the 1960 holiday season. The Etch A Sketch became the number one selling toy in the United States that December.

Mr. Cassagnes was also a renowned modular kite designer, becoming the most famous competitive kite-maker in France during the 1980s. His other inventions included Teleguide, a system to guide metal cars on a track, mechanical games, and SkeDoodle, a globe screen drawing toy concept. He and his wife, Renée, had three children – Sophie, Patrick and Jean Claude.

“Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to André for that.  His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time,” said Larry Killgallon, President of Ohio Art Company.  The famous toy recently marked its 50th anniversary.