50 Years of High-Flyin’ Fun

While throwing a popcorn lid at a Thanksgiving Day picnic more than 50 years ago, inventor Walter Fredrick Morrison was inspired. Afterward, he took a gravity-defying concept to an innovative toy company with a plan to bring his revolutionary flying disc concept to back yards, parks and beaches everywhere.

Morrison’s original idea was to create a “plastic flying disc that could be enjoyed by anyone and everyone who picked it up.”

From Concept to Product
Before teaming up with WHAM-O in 1957, he spent more than 20 years perfecting his flying disc.

As a bomber pilot in World War II, Morrison was no novice when it came to understanding the principles of flight and aeronautics. After being shot down and held as a prisoner of war at the infamous Stalag 13, he had a lot of time to think about perfecting his flying device. Upon his return, Morrison became obsessed with perfecting his flying disc and constantly tinkered with it until he finally got it right.

On January 23, 1957, his 37th birthday, Morrison walked into the Southern California based Wham-O toy company with his Pluto Platter in hand, and a dream of sharing it with the world. The name Pluto Platter was in reverence to the disc’s likeness to an intergalactic flying saucer.

Recognizing the potential of Morrison’s invention Wham-O agreed to begin making the discs immediately and called the flying plastic disc by a brand new name.
Frisbee was “off and Flying!”

An Enduring Phenomenon
Today, Frisbee remains a piece of American culture that is a favorite of all ages from casual backyard play to the highly competitive sports played by millions. The original soaring disc’s energy, emotion and excitement, fused with the spirit of high-flying competition, has remained the essence of Frisbee for over a half-century of flight — with no software, assembly or batteries required.

The Frisbee has not undergone many changes since its inception 50 years ago, with the exception of when Ed Headrick, vice president in charge of marketing at Wham-O, added the patented flight ridges to the top of the disc in 1964. This feature radically improved the disc’s stability and speed, ushering in a new era and the creation of dozens of new Frisbee-based competitive individual and team sports.

Today, more than 45 million people worldwide engage in Ultimate Frisbee, Freestyle Frisbee and Frisbee Golf. Each is easy to learn, a great source of physical activity and only require a Frisbee, an open space and enthusiastic players. Not since the invention of the ball have so many fun games and competitive sports been derived from such a simple object.

• Ultimate Frisbee combines the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football and has become one of the fastest growing sports in the world with organized play in more than 42 countries. Two teams compete against each other to reach their designated end zones at the ends of the field. Teams score by passing the Frisbee to a teammate who is located inside the end zone. Running with the Frisbee is not allowed and possession is lost if the Frisbee touches the ground.

• Freestyle Frisbee combines acrobatics, ballet and aerodynamics to create a Harlem Globetrotters style of basketball with a Frisbee. Whether you “jam” for fun or at an official tournament, you’ll never be denied the chance to create, invent and express you freedom and style. There are no set rules about how to do a move – performing creative, artistic and athletic moves with flying discs is the essence of freestyle or “jamming.” Competitive freestyle combines aspects of gymnastics and dance with the basic game of catch. Teams of two or three players perform choreographed routines involving throws, catches and moves with one or more discs.

• Frisbee Golf consists of the same rules, terminology, etiquette, challenges and dynamics of traditional golf, yet its allure is in its simplicity. If you can throw a Frisbee, you can play Frisbee Golf. The object of the sport is to complete each hole using the fewest number of throws possible. Frisbee Golfers begin by throwing the Frisbee from a designated tee area toward a target, usually an elevated metal basket. As players progress down the fairway, consecutive shots begin from the spot where their previous throw landed. The player who successfully navigates his or her Frisbee through the challenging fairway in the fewest number of throws wins that hole.