|Born||February 15, 1884|
|Died||January 24, 1961 76) (aged|
Alfred Carlton Gilbert (February 15,1884 – January 24, 1961) was an American inventor, athlete, magician, toy-maker and businessman. Gilbert invented the Erector Set and manufactured American Flyer Trains.
Gilbert was educated at the Tualatin Academy and attended Pacific University in nearby Forest Grove, Oregon, where he was a member of the Gamma Sigma Fraternity. : 36–39 His thesis had the title The Genito-Urinary Phenomena of Athletes. : 49He left Pacific after 1902 and transferred to Yale University, financing his education by working as a magician, and earning a degree in medicine.
An accomplished athlete, he broke the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) in 1900 and distance record for running long dive in 1902. He invented the pole vault box and set two world records in the pole vault including a record for 12′ 3″ (3.66 meters) at the Spring meet of the Irish American Athletic Club, held at Celtic Park, New York, in 1906. : 48He tied for gold with fellow American Edward Cook at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London for pole vaulting.
Choosing not to pursue a medical career, Gilbert co-founded Mysto Manufacturing, a manufacturer of magic sets, in 1907. : 37–39 His inspiration was steel construction girders used on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. In 1918, with the United States embroiled in World War I and the Council of National Defense considering a ban on toy production, Gilbert argued successfully against it. The press gave him the nickname "The man who saved Christmas.". Gilbert had by then contributed to the war effort by becoming one of the Four Minute Men who gave short lectures to movie audiences, thus encouraging citizens to purchase war bonds. : 85–104This company later became the A. C. Gilbert Company. Gilbert developed the Erector Set, a construction toy, in 1913 (preceded by the similar Meccano set conceived by Frank Hornby in 1898 which he developed and patented as "Mechanics Made Easy" in 1901 ).
By 1935, his company had sold more than 30 million of the Erector sets.[ citation needed ] He also added chemistry sets, microscope sets, and other educational toys to his product line, accumulating more than 150 patents during his 50-year career. In 1938, he acquired the rights to the American Flyer toy train line from W. O. Coleman and moved their production from Chicago to New Haven. : 160 At the same time, he adopted a 3/16 scale for this train line while keeping the three-rail O-gauge track then associated with Lionel, a competitor. Following World War II, O-gauge track was abandoned in favor of two-rail S-gauge track. Gilbert was lauded for his adherence to scale realism, making American Flyer trains look more real and less toylike.[ citation needed ]
Gilbert is credited with originating the concept of providing benefits for his employees, including free medical and legal advice and maternity leave. : 165–166 In 1915 he founded the Toy Manufacturers of America trade association and was its first president. : 56
Frustrated that invention was an important part of American society not taught in schools, in 1941 Gilbert opened the Gilbert Hall of Science in New York City, a science and technology museum. It served the dual purpose of promoting interest in science and selling Gilbert's products. : 160–161
In 1950–1951 he marketed the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory, which contained radioactive ore samples of autunite, carnotite, torbernite and uraninite. : 179
In 1908, he married Mary Thompson, whom he had met at Pacific University. They had three children: two girls and a boy. : 110 In the 1930s they lived in a property in Hamden, Connecticut called Maraldene which included kennels where Gilbert bred German shepherds including one which won the Max von Stephanitz award. He also owned a nearby 600-acre estate that he called Paradise. He used it for hunting and it housed his big-game trophies. It was a venue for him to entertain clients, and guests attending the Yale Bowl. : 149–159
Upon his retirement in 1954, Gilbert turned his company over to his son. : 163–164 The same year, he published his autobiography, titled The Man Who Lives in Paradise. After his death in 1961, the family sold its remaining shares in the A. C. Gilbert Company to Jack Wrather. It went out of business in 1967, although the Erector trademark continued to be used. : 189–192
A museum in Gilbert's birthplace of Salem, Oregon, A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village, is named in his honor. The museum comprises several historic structures, including the house of Gilbert's uncle Andrew T. Gilbert. It opened in 1989. : 207
The television movie The Man Who Saved Christmas is a dramatization of Christmas during the years 1917 and 1918 when America was involved in World War I. He was portrayed by Jason Alexander. The film takes several historical liberties. It debuted December 15, 2002.
Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, has a residential hall named after him that was opened in 2009.
Meccano is a brand of model construction system created in 1898 by Frank Hornby in Liverpool, England. The system consists of reusable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles and gears, and plastic parts that are connected using nuts and bolts. It enables the building of working models and mechanical devices.
Lionel, LLC is an American designer and importer of toy trains and model railroads that is headquartered in Concord, North Carolina. Its roots lie in the 1969 purchase of the Lionel product line from the Lionel Corporation by cereal conglomerate General Mills and subsequent purchase in 1986 by businessman Richard P. Kughn forming Lionel Trains, Inc. in 1986. The Martin Davis Investment Group (Wellspring) bought Lionel Trains, Inc. in 1995 and renamed it Lionel, LLC.
O scale is a scale commonly used for toy trains and rail transport modelling. Introduced by German toy manufacturer Märklin around 1900, by the 1930s three-rail alternating current O gauge was the most common model railroad scale in the United States and remained so until the early 1960s. In Europe, its popularity declined before World War II due to the introduction of smaller scales.
The A. C. Gilbert Company was an American toy company, once one of the largest in the world. Gilbert originated the Erector Set, which is a construction toy similar to Meccano in the rest of the world, and made chemistry sets, microscope kits, and a line of inexpensive reflector telescopes. In 1938, Gilbert purchased the American Flyer, a manufacturer of toy trains. The Gilbert Company struggled after the death of its founder in 1961 and went out of business in 1967. Its trademarks and toy lines were sold to other companies.
American Flyer is a brand of toy train and model railroad manufactured in the United States.
The Ives Manufacturing Company, an American toy manufacturer from 1868 to 1932, was the largest manufacturer of toy trains in the United States from 1910 until 1924, when Lionel Corporation overtook it in sales.
Erector Set was a brand of metal toy construction sets which were originally patented by Alfred Carlton Gilbert and first sold by his company, the Mysto Manufacturing Company of New Haven, Connecticut in 1913. In 1916, the company was reorganized as the A.C. Gilbert Company. The brand continued its independent existence under various corporate ownerships until 2000, when Meccano bought the Erector brand and consolidated its worldwide marketing with its own brand. The coverage here focuses on the historical legacy of the classic Erector Set; for current developments under the "Erector by Meccano" brand name, see the Meccano article.
Bassett-Lowke was an English toy manufacturing company based in Northampton. Founded by Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke in 1898 or 1899, that specialized in model railways, boats and ships, and construction sets. Bassett-Lowke started as a mail-order business, although it designed and manufactured some items.
Hornby Railways is a British model railways manufacturing company. Its roots date back to 1901 in Liverpool, when founder Frank Hornby received a patent for his Meccano construction toy. The first clockwork train was produced in 1920. In 1938, Hornby launched its first 00 gauge train. In 1964, Hornby and Meccano were bought by their competitor, Tri-ang, and sold when Tri-ang went into receivership. Hornby Railways became independent again in the 1980s, and became listed on the London Stock Exchange, but due to financial troubles reported in June 2017, became majority owned by British turnaround specialist Phoenix Asset Management.
Lionel Corporation was an American toy manufacturer and holding company of retailers that had been in business for over 120 years. It was founded as an electrical novelties company. Lionel specialized in various products throughout its existence. Toy trains and model railroads were its main claim to fame. Lionel trains have been produced since 1900, and their trains drew admiration from model railroaders around the world for the solidity of their construction and the authenticity of their detail. During its peak years in the 1950s, the company sold $25 million worth of trains per year. In 2006, Lionel's electric train became the first electric toy inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. In 1969, they sold their model train lines to General Mills, but continued to operate until 1993 as a holding company for their toy stores. Its model trains are still in production as a separate company.
Frank Hornby was an English inventor, businessman and politician. He was a visionary in toy development and manufacture, and although he had no formal engineering training, he was responsible for the invention and production of three of the most popular lines of toys based on engineering principles in the 20th century: Meccano, Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys. He also founded the British toy company Meccano Ltd in 1908, and launched a monthly publication, Meccano Magazine in 1916.
Meccano Ltd was a British toy manufacturing company, established in 1908 by Frank Hornby in Liverpool, England, to manufacture and distribute Meccano and other model toys and kits created by the company. During the 1920s and 1930s it became the biggest toy manufacturer in the United Kingdom and produced three of the most popular lines of toys in the twentieth century: Meccano, Hornby Trains and Dinky Toys.
A chemistry set is an educational toy allowing the user to perform simple chemistry experiments.
LeRoy Perry Samse was an American athlete who competed mainly in the pole vault. Samse represented the United States in the 1904 Summer Olympics held in St Louis, United States in the pole vault where he won the silver medal.
The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was a toy lab set that was produced by Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who was an American athlete, magician, toy-maker, business man, and inventor of the well-known Erector Set. The Atomic Energy Lab was released by the A. C. Gilbert Company in 1950. The kit's intention was to allow children to create and watch nuclear and chemical reactions using radioactive material.
The Man Who Saved Christmas is a film based on the true story about the efforts of toymaker Alfred Carlton Gilbert of the A. C. Gilbert Company to continue making toys during World War I. First broadcast on CBS television in 2002, it was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2008.
Wooden toy trains are toy trains that run on a wooden track system with grooves to guide the wheels of the rolling stock. While the trains, tracks and scenery accessories are made mainly of wood, the engines and cars connect to each other using metal hooks or small magnets, and some use plastic wheels mounted on metal axles. Some trains are made to resemble anthropomorphical, fictional, and prototypical railroad equipment.
The Multnomah Athletic Club is a private social and athletic club in Portland, Oregon, United States.
William Louis "Colonel Bill" Hayward was a track and field coach at the University of Oregon for 44 years, and a track coach for six United States Olympic teams, from 1908 through 1932.
WCJ was a radio station, located in New Haven, Connecticut, that was licensed to the A. C. Gilbert Company from September 29, 1921 to December 1, 1922. Although short-lived, it was the first broadcasting station licensed in the state of Connecticut, and one of the first in the United States.