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Games and Toys

Etch a Sketch

After receiving a Speak and Spell for Christmas one year, with its bright orange rectangular shape, I was over the moon to receive an Etch a Sketch a few years after!

If was equally bright, equally complicated looking and equally rectangular. Unfortunately, that was where the similarities stopped.

It didn’t take any batteries, it didn’t talk to you and the only display it had was one that you had to create yourself. It was a device used entirely to draw with.

The Etch a Sketch had two knobs, one on either side of the screen. If you twisted one of them, a vertical line appeared on the screen. The line went up or down depending on whether you twisted the know clockwise or anti-clockwise.

The other knob, on the other side of the screen, made the line appear in a horizontal direction, with left and right drawing again controlled by clockwise and anti-clockwise twisting.

That was about it. Oh, sorry, you could also erase all your scratchy lines by turning it upside down and shaking it.

Drawing a box was easy. You would twist one knob, then stop. Twist the other knob, then stop. Twist the first knob in the opposite direction to the first time, then stop. Finally twist the second know in the opposite direction. There you go; a perfect square!

Drawing absolutely ANYTHING else required such multi-knob-twisting precision and the patience of a saint. The number of times I tried to draw a house and failed… I would carefully draw a box, as detailed above, finishing at a top corner. Next, the roof with its complicate diagonal shape would always prove tricky. I’d try to remember which knob did what, along with trying to remember which direction to twist. I’d commit, twist both knobs at the same time and shoot off in a direction diagonally opposed to the way I had intended.

I doubt that, even today, I would be able to control an Etch a Sketch.


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