For new generation yo-yo may seem a newly discovered toy but history of this fun toy says that it is one of the oldest toys of the world. Yo-yo have been a favorite toy of children since the days of ancient Greece. During the 1800s, it was used as a weapon in the Philippines for more than 400 years.
There are ancient Greek yo-yos made of terra cotta in museums in Athens and yo-yos are pictured on the walls of Egyptian temples. The Yo-Yo is known to have been popular with such important warriors as Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington. First patented in 1866 by James L. Haven and Charles Hettrich, the Yo-Yo has enjoyed periods of popularity for generations with kids from 1 – 100.
|Original Duncan Yo-Yo “
O-Boy Yo-Yo Toy” circa 1930
The modern story of the yo-yo starts with a young gentleman from the Philippines, named Pedro Flores. In the 1920s, he moved to the USA, and worked as a bellhop at a Santa Monica hotel. Carving and playing with wooden yo-yos was a traditional pastime in the Philippines, but Pedro found that his lunch break yo-yo playing drew a crowd was the first appearance of the name “yo-yo,” which means “come-come” in the at the hotel.
He started a company to make the toys, calling it the Flores Yo-Yo Company.
The first modern yo-yos were introduced in the United States by Donald F. Duncan in the late 1920s. In 1929, Donald F. Duncan bought the company from Flores, acquiring not only a unique toy, but also the magic name “yo-yo.” About this time, Duncan introduced the looped slip-string, which allows the yo-yo to sleep – a necessity for advanced tricks. He is credited with popularizing (though probably not inventing) the slip-string yo-yo, which enables a yo-yo to “sleep.”
The yo-yo first became popular in the 1930s, when Duncan sent out teams of traveling yo-yo men (not women, mind you) who would spend three, four, and five weeks in cities and towns across America, teaching tricks, selling yo-yos, and running contests.
The 1970s and 1980s saw a number of innovations in yo-yo technology, primarily dealing with the connection between the string and the axle.
In 1978, dentist and yo-yo celebrity Tom Kuhn patented the “No Jive 3-in-1” yo-yo, creating the world's first “take-apart” yo-yo, which enabled yo-yo players to change the axle.
Swedish bearing company SKF briefly manufactured novelty yo-yos with ball bearings in 1984.
Tom Kuhn introduced the SB-2 yo-yo that had an aluminum transaxle, making it the first successful ball-bearing yo-yo. In all transaxle yo-yos, ball bearings significantly reduce friction when the yo-yo is spinning, enabling longer and more complex tricks. Subsequent yo-yoers used this ability to their advantage, creating new tricks that had not been possible with fixed-axle designs.
* Fascinating facts about the invention of the Yo-Yo