Etch A Sketch is a mechanical drawing toy invented by André Cassagnes of France and subsequently manufactured by the Ohio Art Company and now owned by Spin Master of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.An Etch A Sketch has a thick, flat gray screen in a red plastic frame. There are two white knobs on the front of the frame in the lower corners. Twisting the knobs moves a stylus that displaces aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line. The knobs create lineographic images. The left control moves the stylus horizontally, and the right one moves it vertically.The Etch A Sketch was introduced near the peak of the Baby Boom on 12 July 1960 for $2.99 (equivalent to $26 in 2019). It went on to sell 600,000 units that year and is one of the best known toys of that era. In 1998, it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong, in Rochester, New York. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Etch A Sketch one of the 100 most memorable toys of the 20th century. The Etch A Sketch has since sold over 100 million units world wide.
The toy is a kind of plotter. The inside surface of the glass screen is coated with aluminium powder, which is then scraped off by a movable stylus, leaving a dark line on the light gray screen. The stylus is controlled by the two large knobs, one of which moves it vertically and the other horizontally. Turning both knobs simultaneously makes diagonal lines. To erase the picture, the user turns the toy upside down and shakes it. Doing this causes polystyrene beads to smooth out and re-coat the inside surface of the screen with aluminum powder. The "black" line merely exposes the darkness inside the toy. Scraping out large "black" areas allows enough light through to expose parts of the interior.