Earlier this week Walter Frederick Morrison, the inventor of the Frisbee, died.
I think the invention of the Frisbee is one of those events that is destined to be shrouded in the mists of time, like the invention of baseball. Run a Google search on the death of the inventor of the Frisbee and you will find a variety of stories about how the moment of inspiration happened. Was it Morrison tossing a pie tin to his uncle in the ’30s? Was Morrison taking cakes to the beach in the ’40s and playing catch with the empty plate? Different articles tell different stories. The important point is that Morrison took a simple idea, improved on what existed, and developed a product that is known and used throughout the world.
Morrison sold the Frisbee idea to Wham-O in 1957 — the year I was born — and the idea took off. According to the linked article, 200 million Frisbees have been sold since then. I’m a bit surprised it is not more than that. The Frisbee is now ubiquitous on beaches and college campuses across the globe. What American kid hasn’t thrown a Frisbee or caught one?
So, farewell to Mr. Morrison, and may he rest in peace. We are left to wonder: what must it have felt like for him to walk past a college campus on a warm spring day and see happy students hurling his invention and sprinting across the lush green grass to snag that flying disk, and know that he had made their lives a bit richer and more fun than they would have been otherwise?