Walter Morrison

po_FrisbeeWalter Fredick “Fred” Morrison (January 23, 1920 – February 9, 2010) was an American inventor and entrepreneur, best known as the inventor of the Frisbee. He was born in Richfield, Utah.

Morrison claimed that the original idea for a flying disc toy came to him in 1937, while throwing a popcorn can lid with his girlfriend, Lu, whom he later married. The popcorn can lid soon dented which led to the discovery that cake pans flew better and were more common. Morrison and Lu developed a little business selling “Flyin’ Cake Pans” on the beaches of Santa Monica, California.

po_Frisbee2During World War II he learned something of aerodynamics flying his P-47 Thunderbolt in Italy. He was shot down and was a prisoner of war for 48 days. In 1946, he sketched out a design (called the Whirlo-Way) for the world’s first flying disc. In 1948 an investor, Warren Franscioni, paid for molding the design in plastic. They named it the Flyin-Saucer. After disappointing sales, Fred & Warren parted ways in early 1950. In 1954, Fred bought more of the Saucers from the original molders to sell at local fairs, but soon found he could produce his own disc more cheaply. In 1955, he and Lu designed the Pluto Platter, the archetype of all modern flying discs. On January 23, 1957, they sold the rights for the Pluto Platter to the Wham-O toy company. Initially Wham-O continued to market the toy solely as the “Pluto Platter”, but by June 1957 they also began using the name Frisbee after learning that college students in the Northeast were calling the Pluto Platter by that name. Morrison also invented several other products for Wham-O, but none were as successful as the Pluto Platter.