A yo-yo is a simple toy that is usually made of two disks connected by a central shaft with a length of string looped around this shaft. The player places one finger in the end of the string and throws or lets the yo-yo drop. At this occurs the string unwinds and the yo-yo spins, which then causes the string to wind back onto the shaft. A number of tricks can be performed with the device. Yo-yo competitions are also popular and a World Yo-Yo Contest is held each year. The yo-yo has been around for thousands of years, but the popularity of this toy exploded in the 1900’s. Let’s find out when they were invented and who made them popular.
Who invented the yo-yo?
The first yo-yo can be traced back to ancient Greece, around 500 BC. The disks were made out of terra cotta, wood or metal and were played with by children. However the modern yo-yo wasn’t invented for more than 2000 years!
The first patent for the yo-yo was awarded to James L. Haven and Charles Hettrick who improved on the traditional design. However, the yo-yo was still virtually unknown in most of the world after this time. One of the first to successfully introduce the yo-yo to the United States was Filipino Pedro Flores who moved to the country in the 1920’s and played with his yo-yo during lunch hours at his work. He soon attracted a crowd and had people asking for their own toys. In 1928 Flores started the Flores Yo-Yo Company and he began to sell the handmade toys in the area. Soon he had to purchase two more factories and employed over 600 workers to meet the demand of 300,000 units per day! Not long after this, entrepreneur Donald F. Duncan purchased the company along with the rights to the name Yo-yo at an estimated $250,000 (more than $3 million today). It was a sound investment and the Duncan Toys Company went on to become world famous for their line of yo-yo products.
Did you know?
Duncan discovered that the string could be looped onto the central shaft instead of tied. This created a whole new set of tricks, known as sleeping.