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Aerodynamic discs now known as Frisbees arrived 60 years ago

January 23, 2017 - UNITED STATES

The Wham-O company first marketed the Frisbee, then known as the Pluto Platter, on Jan 23, 1957, in California. Sixty years on, some 60 manufacturers produce the flying plastic discs and Frisbee games have become an Olympic sport. The characteristic flinging of the discs has entered the language as "Frisbee-ing."

The design was patented in Dec 1957, and Pluto Platters were renamed Frisbees in 1958.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized flying disc sports, including Ultimate Frisbee, in Aug 2015. The BBC, which reported the IOC decision, notes that Ultimate, as it is commonly known, is the most popular of the games and originated in the United States in the 1960s. Played indoors or outdoors, Ultimate is a non-contact, mixed-team game that is particularly popular with university students.

The 30-year-old World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) looks after the interests of the sport, which includes Ultimate Frisbee, Disc Golf and Freestyle. The discs, which have a curved lip and measure roughly 8-10 inches across, are played in organised games in some 58 countries.

According to the History.com account, students from universities near the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport would fling empty pie tins to each other, yelling "Frisbie!" as they let go. In 1948, two inventors, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni, invented a plastic version of the tin that could fly further and more accurately than the pie plates. The modern design was patented in Dec 1957 by Ed Headrick, who invented Frisbee Golf. There is also Freestyle Frisbee, with choreographed routines set to music and multiple discs in play.

'Ultimate Frisbee' recognised by International Olympic Committee (BBC 15 Aug 2015)

Toy company Wham-O produces first Frisbees (History.com)

World Flying Disc Federation

Ownership of Wham-O Spins Into Chinese Hands (LA Times 20 Jan 2006)

How the Frisbee got its name (NYT 17 Jun 2007)

Date written/update: 2016-05-11