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Flashback: LITE-BRITE, Making Things With Light…

You see dear reader, when I was young I didn’t have access to fancy computers, or video game systems, or cellphones, or whatever it is you all watch crap on these days.

During my childhood, if your parents didn’t want to spend the bread, there was really only one way to get your bright, electrical stimulation:


Lite-Brite has been around since before time – well, 1967 to be exact.

As many of you probably know, because it’s MORE than likely you have seen one of these when you were a rug rat, Lite-Brite was essentially a back-lit board that was covered with black paper.  You would take a transparent, colored pin, stick it into the black paper and it would create a bright image of whatever you want.  Sometimes the black paper had various images on it like a sail boat or some crap.

It had a pretty catchy commercial: the kids seemed so excited when the Lite-Brite would spin around and their childish images would glow with the force of a thousand suns – the images flying off the machine with glowing sexual power.

Hell, even the theme was memorable:

“Lite-Brite, making things with liiiight,
What a sight, making things with Lite-Brite!”

I remember being so disappointed that the Lite-Brite didn’t come to life…

The Lite-Brite was invented by the one and only Burt Meyer, who also co-invented other famous toys like Mouse Trap and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.  Meyer had quite a prestigious career that spanned decades, but according to an article by Tim Walsh, Meyer’s favorite invention (or “item” as Meyer describes) was the Lite-Brite.

According to Meyer, the pitch wasn’t too hard:

“I brought (Hasbro president) Merrill Hassenfeld into our conference room,” Meyer said. “I dimmed the lights and plugged it [the Lite Brite prototype] in. As soon as I put a peg in, it lit up. After he tried it himself, he sat back and said ‘That’s my item!’ He and Marvin inked a deal within an hour.”

Today, there are a number of artists using the Lite-Brite platform to toss together some pretty cool pieces; some are insanely beautiful and others more tongue-in-cheek.

In fact, artist Rob Surette made the world’s largest Lite-Brite image measuring ten feet by twenty feet and made with 504,000 pegs.

My past experience with the Lite-Brite was almost killing myself by sliding my lil’ kid finger in between the male contacts of the plug and putting it into the socket.  I remember waking up to my preschool teachers hovering over me and wondering if I was dead.

I wasn’t exactly the smartest kid, nor the easiest to entertain.  Anyway, as a child I wasn’t impressed with the Lite-Brite; I was always more of an Etch-A-Sketch guy.

Regardless of how I think, Hasbro released a mega-hit that’s been around for almost 50 years in various forms – including a new iPad version – and you can’t dismiss a hit.

Until next time…

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