it was kenner--it was fun

My mom never throws anything out.

This is usually a bad thing. Occasionally, it is a good thing.This post reflects on one of the rare latter times.

I discovered over the weekend that she had lovingly preserved my girlhood Spirograph, still in its original box. The three smallest gears are missing, and of course the original pens are long gone, but the beautiful spirals this clever toy faithfully still generates hold their fascination for me. We all learned as children, of course, that if the radius of fixed circle is R, the radius of moving circle is r, and the offset of the pen point in the moving circle is O, then the equation of the resulting curve is defined by:

x = (R+r)*cos(t) - (r+O)*cos(((R+r)/r)*t)

y = (R+r)*sin(t) - (r+O)*sin(((R+r)/r)*t)

Now, Kenner, the original distributor of the Spirograph in the US, has a corporate history like those so deftly sent up in Toy Story, with Hasbro, the final surviving corporate toy entity, finally putting the Kenner name to sleep when it closed Cincinnati operations in 2000.

Hasbro now manufactures a box of flimsy plastic with the Spirograph name on the box, one of which I bought because my mom won't give me my original Spirograph back. I suspect her of playing with it when I'm not there.

After spending yesterday evening playing with my new Spirograph, er, conducting historical and sociological research for my website using my kids' new Spirograph, that is, I must report that Hasbro has not improved on the original product.

It is possible, however, to make spirograph doodles on your computer now.

I find this more satisfactory than the flimsy new version but not quite as much fun as taking pen in hand.

An inspired poster to Halfbakery proposed the creation of a Food Spirograph, which has a lot of late night appeal.

What's the connection with lawyers and technology here? Oh, it's just as flimsy as my new Spirograph, I guess, just a cautionary reminder that as in toys, so in technology, newer is not always better unless sufficient thought is put into the new product.

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