Richard Knerr, founder of Wham-O and thus popularizer of the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee, the Superball, the Slip-n-Slide, Silly String* and countless other childhood memories, died yesterday at the age of 82.
Without Knerr, the pop culture landscape would be vastly different. The Hudsucker Proxy would have been a very different movie. No one would ever play Ultimate Frisbee. There would have been no Hula Hoop craze of the 1950. Guys with dogs named "Bandit" would have to throw something else to their pets. Etc.
*For the truly videogame obsessed, Knerr invented "toys." IE: Physical objects that are thrown, bounced, jumped on and otherwise manipulated IRL to produce "fun." Like the Wii, but different.
The level design on toys is terrible, and they're super-repetitive, but the graphics and physics engines are the most realistic yo can get, and the framerates are not to be believed. Plus, they're open-world.