Magic 8-Ball

The Magic 8-Ball is a plastic sphere, made to look like an eight-ball, that is used for fortune-telling or seeking advice. It was invented in 1946 by Albert C. Carter and Abe Bookman and is currently manufactured by Mattel. The user asks a yes–no question to the ball, then turns it over to reveal an answer in a window on the ball.

Magic 8 Ball
The Magic 8-Ball.
TypeNovelty toy
Blue dye
Official website


The functional component of the Magic 8-Ball was invented by Albert C. Carter, who was inspired by a spirit writing device used by his mother Mary, a Cincinnati clairvoyant.[1] When Carter approached store owner Max Levinson about stocking the device, Levinson called in Abe Bookman, Levinson's brother-in-law, and graduate of Ohio Mechanics Institute. In 1944, Carter filed for a patent[2] for the cylindrical device, assigning it in 1946 to Bookman, Levinson and another partner in what came to be Alabe Crafts, Inc., combining the founder's names, Albert and Abe. Alabe marketed and sold the cylinder as The Syco-Slate. Carter died sometime before the patent was granted in 1948. Bookman made improvements to The Syco-Slate, and in 1948 it was encased in an iridescent crystal ball. Though unsuccessful, the revamped product caught the attention of Chicago's Brunswick Billiards, who in 1950 commissioned Alabe Crafts to make a version in the form of a traditional black-and-white 8-ball,[3] which was possibly inspired by a gag in the 1940 Three Stooges short film, You Nazty Spy!.[4]

Cultural impactEdit

Although originally sold as a paper-weight, like many toys and gadgets, the Magic 8-Ball would go on to become a fad, or "must-have" in several decades; with subsequent generations finding joy in its mystery. This was not just as an executive toy, but also a "craze" among youngsters.

In 1971, Bookman sold Alabe Crafts, Inc., to Ideal Toys[5] who marketed the ball firmly at children. In 1987, the rights were again sold to Tyco Toys,[6] spurring on another marketing campaign and resurgence in interest. Despite its numerous owners, the Magic 8-Ball has changed little in design and implementation.

Design and usageEdit

One of the possible responses of the Magic 8-Ball.

The Magic 8-Ball is a hollow plastic sphere resembling a black-and-white 8-ball. Its standard size is larger than an ordinary pool ball, but it has been made in various sizes. Inside the ball, a cylindrical reservoir contains a white plastic icosahedron die floating in approximately 100mL (3½ fl. oz.) of alcohol dyed dark blue. Each of the die's 20 faces has an affirmative, negative, or non-committal statement printed in raised letters. These messages are read through a window on the ball's bottom.

To use the ball, it must be held with the window initially facing down to allow the die to float within the cylinder. After asking the ball a yes–no question, the user then turns the ball so that the window faces up. The die floats to the top, and one face presses against the window; the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message as white letters on a blue background. Although most users shake the ball before turning it upright, the instructions warn against doing so to avoid white bubbles. Many users find entertainment with this device. It has continued to be a popular gift item since its release.

While the Magic 8 Ball has undergone very few changes, an addition in 1975 by new owners, Ideal Toy Company, fixed the bubble problem.[7] Their patented "Bubble Free Die Agitator", an inverted funnel, rerouted the air trapped inside. The solution has been utilized ever since.

In popular cultureEdit

The Magic 8-Ball appeared in the 1995 Disney/Pixar animated film Toy Story when Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks) looks at the Magic 8-Ball and he asks "Will Andy pick me?" He begins shaking the ball and the wrong answer appears as "Don't count on it!" Then he groans in frustration and throws the ball as it rolls to the floor.

Possible answersEdit

A standard Magic 8 Ball has 20 possible answers, including 10 affirmative answers (), 5 non-committal answers (), and 5 negative answers ().

It is certain.
It is decidedly so.
Without a doubt.
Yes definitely.
You may rely on it.

As I see it, yes.
Most likely.
Outlook good.
Signs point to yes.

Reply hazy, try again.
Ask again later.
Better not tell you now.
Cannot predict now.
Concentrate and ask again.

Don't count on it.
My reply is no.
My sources say no.
Outlook not so good.
Very doubtful.

Live-action film adaptationEdit

Mattel Films teaming up with Blumhouse Productions agreed to partner on a horror/thriller film based on the fortune-telling toy, with Jeff Wadlow directing the film.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "Where Did the Idea for the Magic 8 Ball Come From?". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  2. ^ Coopee, Todd. "Magic 8 Ball from Alabe Crafts (1946)".
  3. ^ Walsh, Tim. (2001). The Playmakers: Amazing Origins of Timeless Toys, pp. 94–5. Keys Publishing, Sarasota. ISBN 0-9646973-4-3.
  4. ^ Minichiello, Mia (2015). "The Great Dictator (film)". Salem Press Encyclopedia. Salem Press.
  5. ^ "A Brief History of the Magic 8 Ball". 2015-08-24. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  6. ^ "Abe Bookman, UC alum, created everlasting Magic 8 Ball". University of Cincinnati. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  7. ^ "Today I Found Out". Today I Found Out.

External linksEdit