Inventor of Etch A Sketch dies at 86

BRYAN, Ohio (AP) — Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and

started over, has died in France, the toy's maker said.

Cassagnes died Jan. 16 in a Paris suburb at age 86, said the Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan in northwest Ohio. The cause wasn't

disclosed Saturday.

"Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that. His

invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time," said Larry Killgallon, president of Ohio Art.

Then an electrical technician, Cassagnes

came upon the Etch A Sketch idea in the late 1950s when he peeled a

translucent decal

from a light switch plate and found pencil mark images transferred

to the opposite face, the Toy Industry Association said.

Ohio Art saw his idea at the Nuremberg Toy

Fair in 1959. The toy, with its gray screen, red frame and two white

knobs that

are twisted back and forth to create drawings, was launched in

1960 and became the top seller that holiday season. More than

100 million have been sold worldwide since.

Though passed over in popularity for video

games and gadgets, the toy has a steady market, the company has said. It

got a

big jump in sales after Etch A Sketch was featured in the first

two "Toy Story" movies, and Ohio Art capitalized on a much-publicized

gaffe by a Mitt Romney aide during last year's presidential

election, who was asked about his candidate's views during the

primary season versus the general election.

He likened the campaign to an Etch A Sketch: "You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again."

Democrats and Republicans alike seized on

the remark as evidence that Romney was willing to change his positions

for political

gain. And Ohio Art seized on the publicity, creating a politically

themed ad campaign and manufacturing blue versions of the

famously red toy.

Etch A Sketches were made in Ohio until 2000, when the company moved production to China because of increasing costs.