Jan. 23, 1957 The Frisbee was born 60 years ago this month. While people had been tossing discs long before that, the now-common plastic variety was invented in the 1950s by a former World War II fighter pilot and carpenter named Fred Morrison. The shape was partly inspired by UFO sightings, as was Morrison’s original name for them: Pluto Platters.
In 1957, he sold his rights to the design in return for lifetime royalties to Wham-O toy company, which had made its name with hula hoops. Wham-O renamed the Platter after noticing young people called the discs “Frisbies,” after the Frisbie Pie Co. in Bridgeport, Conn., whose pie tins were tossed around on New England college campuses.
“With a slight change of spelling to avoid trademark trouble, Wham-O’s Frisbee was born,” The Washington Post’s 2010 obituary for Morrison noted. “A Wham-O representative said the company has sold well over 200 million Frisbees, which have grown beyond their roots as casual playthings.”
“In addition to professional disc golf, in which players attempt to hit targets rather than sink putts, athletes play Ultimate Frisbee, a cross between soccer and football,” The Post reported. Other games include “Guts, in which players attempt to catch each other’s high-speed throws without breaking their fingers.”
Morrison never liked the Frisbee name, according to Frisbee collector Phil Kennedy, who co-wrote a book with Morrison. “He thought it didn’t apply to anything,” Kennedy told The Post. “It was just a crazy name that didn’t mean anything.”