The Man Who Changed How Boys and Toys Were Made by Bruce Watson

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Athlete, magician, doctor, marketing genius, millionaire-A. C. Gilbert (1884-1962) was all of these, but how he really made his name was by refusing to grow up. In 1913, Gilbert poured his boyish enthusiasm and creativity into the invention of a new toy he christened the Erector set, and this ingenious gadget instantly took American boys by storm. In this superb new book, Bruce Watson unfolds the history and phenomenal legacy of one man and one amazing toy.

In a gripping, richly detailed narrative, Watson conjures up Gilbert as a self-created hero blessed with equal parts vision and determination. A product of the Western frontier, Gilbert came of age at the turn of the last century when anything seemed possible. And indeed, for him, anything was-outstanding success in sports, a medical degree from Yale, a flourishing career as a magician. But it was the invention of the Erector set that launched Gilbert on his true mission in life. It was a toy unlike any other, and Gilbert marketed it with a campaign that inspired boys to go beyond play into the realm of pure possibility. Generations of scientists and architects trace their success back to their first Erector set.

Watson re-creates not only the life of a true American genius, but also the world he lived in and the influence he had upon it through his astoundingly versatile invention. The Man Who Changed How Boys and Toys Were Made is a quintessentially American story-a tale of remarkable ingenuity, boundless enthusiasm, business savvy, hard work, and above all the right idea at the right time.

About Bruce Watson

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Bruce Watson is an award-winning journalist whose articles have been published in "Smithsonian, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Examiner, Yankee Magazine," and "The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003,
Published January 1, 2002 by Penguin Books, USA. 216 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, History, Computers & Technology, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Yet the rest may well not have been history, the author points out, if Gilbert hadn’t “made himself part of the package.” Such deceptively simple-minded slogans as “Hey Boys, Make Lots of Toys,” delivered under Gilbert’s likeness both in Erector ads and on packaging, Watson observes, were the pro...

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