Most Inventive Home Grown Toy Geniuses of All Time

In this time of economic hardship, it is important to encourage people who have nothing but their home garage and their personal skills to rely on.

In that spirit, Linda Christas College Engineering is suggesting a list of the toy geniuses who have produced the most innovative toys for public consumption without the help of corporate Research and Development budgets.

Many toys have been invented by accident, like crayons. And, there are toys that were invented by happenstance, like the frisbee (from pie tins).

This list rewards INDIVIDUAL engineering ability first and foremost.

That is, we looked at what the individual produced in a garage that competed or surpassed what large companies produced in terms of the idea itself, and then in terms of engineering excellence.

To restate the first idea, in this time of economic hardship, it is the purpose of this list to show that working in one's own home or garage, and using only the resources there, one can work oneself into a comfortable financial situation. It is a way to encourage the common man to use his or her genius and not to feel that only the corporate world has a chance in today's marketplace.

This list was suggested by the engineering department of Linda Christas College. For information as to where to find these inventions on the internet, please contact Dr. Ann Voisin at

Approving this list would be considered a public service of The Top Tens.

The Top Ten

1 Ben Bernard

Inventor of BRICKSPEAK, the audiophile quality toy stereophonic system. Made of 100% Lego. This inventor was chosen because the toy displays the kind of innovative, self tutored genius we were after. The internal design of this toy matches sound to the delivery system in such a way so as to produce tones without impurities. The sound measuring and testing equipment was built from scratch and compares well with instruments used by corporations in the several hundred thousand dollar range. Bernard's total budget for testing equipment and the actual invention in today's dollars: $500. Current company: ToysPeriod. com

- drlara

I think ben bernard invented BRICKSPEAK. If so, and I'm pretty sure that's right, I agree with this rating. What the guy did in his garage by all reports was sensational. I'm kind of an audiophile myself, and have heard a BRICKSPEAK Lego toy speaker, and they sound as good to me as Totem Acoustics products.

2 Ole Kirk Christiansen

Lego as an offshoot of his wooden toy company. Ole is placed in fourth position because this toy was the invention of many minds rather than the result of one person's creativity. - drlara

He helped create my favorite toy EVER! - booklover1

Without him, there would be no LEGO :( - booklover1

3 Jospeh Binney

Inventor of CRAYONS - The first crayons are purported to have consisted of a mixture of charcoal and oil. Later, powdered pigments of various hues replaced the charcoal. It was subsequently discovered that substituting wax for the oil in the mixture made the resulting sticks sturdier and easier to handle. - drlara

4 Richard Knerr

Inventor of Hoola Hoop - Around 1300, hooping came to Great Britain, homemade versions of the toy became very popular. In the early 1800s, British sailors first witnessed hula dancing in the Hawaiian Islands. Hula dancing and hooping look somewhat similar and the name "hula hoop" came together. Modern version by Richard Knerr in 1958. - drlara

5 Noah McVicker and Joseph McVicker

Play-Doh- U. S. Patent No. 3,167,440 was granted to Noah McVicker and Joseph McVicker for a "plastic modeling composition of a soft, playable working consistency' that eventually became a product known as Play-Doh. Noah McVicker and Joseph McVicker founded Rainbow Crafts to start manufacturing their product. - drlara

6 Morris Michtom

Store owner who saw a story about Theodore Roosevelt and decided a bear in the President's honor would be a good idea. He had no idea how good his idea would turn out to be. - drlara

7 Charles Pajeau

Tinkertoy - Pajeau was a stonemason from Evanston, Illinois who established The Toy Tinkers company. Nearly one million sets were sold in the year following the introduction of Tinkertoys at the 1913 American Toy Fair in New York. - drlara

8 Elihu Frisbie

The Frisbie Baking Company (1871-1958) of Bridgeport, Connecticut, made pies that were sold to many New England colleges. Hungry college students soon discovered that the empty pie tins could be tossed and caught, providing endless hours of game and sport. Many colleges have claimed to be the home of 'he who was first to fling. ' Yale College has even argued that in 1820, a Yale undergraduate named Elihu Frisbie grabbed a passing collection tray from the chapel and flung it out into the campus, thereby becoming the true inventor of the Frisbie and winning glory for Yale. - drlara

9 Richard James

In 1943, Richard James was a naval engineer trying to develop a meter designed to monitor horsepower on naval battleships. Richard was working with tension springs when one of the springs fell to the ground. He saw how the spring kept moving after it hit the ground and an idea for a toy was born.

Richard James told his wife Betty, "I think I can make a toy out of this" and then spent the next two years figuring out the best steel gauge and coil to use for the toy. - drlara

10 Ruth Handler

The Barbie doll was invented in 1959 by Ruth Handler (co-founder of Mattel), whose own daughter was called Barbara. Barbie was introduced to the world at the American Toy Fair in New York City. The doll was intended to be a teenage fashion doll. There has been some controversy over Barbie's figure when it realized that if Barbie was a real person her measurements would be an impossible 36-18-38. The Ken doll was named after Ruth's son. Barbie first had bendable legs in 1965. - drlara

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