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Richard Knerr
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    (June 30, 1925-January 18, 2008)
    Born in San Gabriel, California
    Co-founder with Arthur 'Spud' Mellin of Wham-O (1948)
    Marketed the Hula Hoop (1957), Frisbee (1957), Slip N Slide (1961), Super Ball (1966) and Silly String (1972)
    Wham-O was sold to Kransco (1982), Mattel (1994) and Cornerstone Overseas Investment (2002)
    He and Mellin initially started a business training falcons and taught the birds to chase after prey by launching meatballs with a homemade slingshot.
    They started their toy company after a potential customer expressed more interest in the slingshot than the birds.
    In addition to slingshots, they also marketed crossbows, throwing knives and a .22 caliber single shot target pistol to kids.
    He and Mellin are sometimes described as co-inventors of the Frisbee and Hula Hoop even though both items had existed years before they sold them.
    Their attempt to cash in on the Cold War with a $119 do-it-yourself fallout shelter flopped.
    He and Mellin met as teenagers and stayed life-long friends.
    They named Wham-O after the sound a slingshot made hitting a target.
    Wham-O was responsible for some the biggest fads in American history.
    He said, 'If Spud and I had to say what we contributed, it was fun. But I think this country gave us more than we gave it. It gave us the opportunity to do it.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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