Magic 8 Ball

Inducted 2018

Abe Bookman of the Alabe Crafts Company of Cincinnati introduced Magic 8 Ball in 1946. The novelty provided answers that swam randomly out of its inky depths. The size of an overgrown softball with a flat spot that let it stand as a desktop paperweight, Magic 8 Ball would respond to questions with one of 20 phrases framed in a triangle in the round window. What’s the secret of this toy? The black ball decorated with an “8” in a white circle houses a 20-sided plastic polyhedron that floats in diluted liquid. Inscribed on each of its facets is a different answer to a yes-or-no question.

Expectations for the future lie between idle longing and fervent wishing. Magic 8 Ball is simple and plays with something people are curious about—the future. It provides an opportunity to flirt harmlessly with fortune telling. The versatility in its appeal to children and adults has helped the toy to endure for more than a half-century. Millions of people have purchased their Magic 8 Ball during the last seven decades, yet the toy is still gaining popularity. One humorist called it the “best decision-making model of the millennium.”