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Toy timeline

  • 1840: An American doll maker is granted a patent, and dolls are mass-produced in America for the first time.
  • 1862: German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz opens the FAO Schwarz toy chain in Baltimore before moving it to New York a few years later. Its Fifth Avenue location in Manhattan eventually becomes a major tourist attraction.
  • 1901: Joshua Lionel Cowen, 22, creates a battery-powered train engine as an animated advertisement for products in a store display window. After customers clamor for the train and not the products, Lionel Trains is created.
  • 1916: John Lloyd Wright invents Lincoln Logs, interlocking toy logs that children use to build structures. He was inspired by the way his father, the famed architect, designed the earthquake-proof Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.
  • 1952: Banking on the idea that children like to play with their food, Hasbro introduces Mr. Potato Head.
  • 1965: Stanley Weston creates a doll for boys based on a new television show called The Lieutenant. The GI Joe becomes more popular than the show, surprising toy manufacturers who were convinced that boys wouldn't play with dolls.
  • 1972: Magnavox creates Odyssey, the first video game machine, featuring a primitive form of paddle ball.
  • 1986: Artist Xavier Roberts introduces into the mass market the Cabbage Patch Kid, a doll he created in 1977 to pay his way through school. Three million are produced, but demand exceeds supply and leads to fights in store aisles over the doll.
  • 2003: FAO Schwarz's parent, FAO Inc., files for bankruptcy twice, blaming intense competition by Wal-Mart and other discounters and children's changing play patterns. Sources: HistoryChannel.com, Forbes.com
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