Etch a Sketch Inventor Dead at 86

Bryan, Ohio---Ohio Art Com­pa­ny an­nounced Satur­day that Etch A Sketch in­ven­tor An­dré Cas­sagnes has passed due to undis­closed cir­cum­stances. He was 86.

The Etch A Sketch was an ear­ly hand­held tablet de­vice, and the first to achieve sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket share. It was ful­ly portable and had a 7-in. × 5-in. screen with a res­o­lu­tion of ap­prox­i­mate­ly 85 lines per inch. Although crit­i­cized for its closed ar­chi­tec­ture, monochrome dis­play, and fre­quent da­ta loss, it nev­er­the­less be­came ex­treme­ly pop­u­lar due to its af­ford­abil­i­ty and ease of use.

First un­veiled by Cas­sagnes in 1959 un­der the name L'Ecran Mag­ique, the de­sign was sold to Ohio Art for $25,000, and went on to be­come the van­guard of a bur­geon­ing, bil­lion-dol­lar con­sumer me­dia tablet in­dus­try. Fifty years lat­er, it is still be­ing pro­duced at the com­pa­ny's Bryan, Ohio fac­to­ry in Shen­zhen. In March 2012, Mitt Rom­ney's pres­i­den­tial cam­paign used the icon­ic de­vice as its sym­bol of progress and for­ward-think­ing in­ge­nu­ity.

An­dré is sur­vived by his wife Renée and his three chil­dren, So­phie, Pa­trick, and Jean Claude.