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A flying disc with the Wham-O registered trademark "Frisbee" Frisbee 090719.jpg
A flying disc with the Wham-O registered trademark "Frisbee"

A frisbee (pronounced FRIZ-bee, origin of the term dates to 1957, also called a flying disc or simply a disc) is a gliding toy or sporting item that is generally plastic and roughly 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in diameter with a pronounced lip. It is used recreationally and competitively for throwing and catching, as in flying disc games. The shape of the disc is an airfoil in cross-section which allows it to fly by generating lift as it moves through the air. Spinning it imparts a stabilizing gyroscopic force, allowing it to be both aimed and thrown for distance.

Flying disc games types of sport

Flying disc games are games played with discs, often called by the trademarked name Frisbees. Ultimate and disc golf are sports with substantial international followings.

Airfoil cross-sectional shape of a wing, blade (of a propeller, rotor, or turbine), or sail

An airfoil or aerofoil is the cross-sectional shape of a wing, blade, or sail.


A wide range is available of flying disc variants. Those for disc golf are usually smaller but denser and tailored for particular flight profiles to increase or decrease stability and distance. The longest recorded disc throw is by David Wiggins, Jr. with a distance of 1,109 feet (338 m). [1] Disc dog sports use relatively slow-flying discs made of more pliable material to better resist a dog's bite and prevent injury to the dog. Flying rings are also available which typically travel significantly farther than any traditional flying disc. Illuminated discs are made of phosphorescent plastic or contain chemiluminescent fluid or battery-powered LEDs for play after dark. Others whistle when they reach a certain velocity in flight.

Disc golf type of sport

Disc golf is a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target; it is played using rules similar to golf. It is often played on a course of 9 or 18 holes. Players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee area toward a target, throwing again from the landing position of the disc until the target is reached. Usually, the number of throws a player uses to reach each target are tallied, and players seek to complete each hole, and the course, in the lowest number of total throws.

Disc dog dog sport

Disc dog is a dog sport. In disc dog competitions, dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching. The sport celebrates the bond between handler and dog, by allowing them to work together. The term "disc" is preferred because "Frisbee" is a trademark for a brand of flying disc.

Chemiluminescence emission of light as a result of a chemical reaction

Chemiluminescence is the emission of light (luminescence), as the result of a chemical reaction. There may also be limited emission of heat. Given reactants A and B, with an excited intermediate ,

The term frisbee is often used generically to describe all flying discs, but Frisbee is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company. This protection results in organized sports such as Ultimate or disc golf having to forgo use of the word "Frisbee". [2] [3]

Generic trademark trademark or brand name that has become the generic name for a class of product or service, sometimes resulting in loss of legal protection

A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, due to its popularity or significance, has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, usually against the intentions of the trademark's holder. The process of a product's name becoming genericized is known as genericide.

Wham-O American toy company

Wham-O Inc. is an American toy company based in Carson, California, United States. It is known for creating and marketing many popular toys for nearly 70 years, including the Hula Hoop, Frisbee, Slip 'N Slide, Super Ball, Trac-Ball, Silly String, Hacky Sack and Boogie Board.


A flying disc in flight Person throwing flying disc.jpg
A flying disc in flight
A flying disc being caught Frisbee Catch- Fcb981.jpg
A flying disc being caught

Humans have been tossing disc-shaped objects since time immemorial. At first these were found objects such as rocks worn smooth in stream beds. Some were tossed for fun while others were used as weapons such as the discus. Throwing the discus became an event in the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece. Later, objects such as mats, hats, lids, pie tins, and cake pans were found to be perfect for tossing.

Olympic Games Major international sport event

The modern Olympic Games or Olympics are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games are considered the world's foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. The Olympic Games are held every four years, with the Summer and Winter Games alternating by occurring every four years but two years apart.

Walter Frederick Morrison and his future wife Lucile had fun tossing a popcorn can lid after a Thanksgiving Day dinner in 1937. They soon discovered a market for a light duty flying disc when they were offered 25 cents for a cake pan that they were tossing back and forth on a beach near Los Angeles, California. [4] "That got the wheels turning, because you could buy a cake pan for five cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well—there was a business," Morrison told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in 2007. [5]

Walter Frederick Morrison 20th and 21st-century American inventor

Walter Frederick "Fred" Morrison was an American inventor and entrepreneur, best known as the inventor of the Frisbee.

<i>The Virginian-Pilot</i> newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia

The Virginian-Pilot is a daily newspaper based in Norfolk, Virginia. Commonly known as The Pilot, it is Virginia's largest daily. It serves the five cities of South Hampton Roads as well as several smaller towns across southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina. It was a locally owned, family enterprise from its founding in 1865 at the close of the American Civil War until its sale to Tribune Publishing in 2018.

The Morrisons continued their business until World War II, when he served in the Army Air Force flying P-47s, and then was a prisoner of war. [5] After the war, Morrison sketched a design for an aerodynamically improved flying disc that he called the Whirlo-Way. [4] after the famous racehorse. He and business partner Warren Franscioni began producing the first plastic discs by 1948, after design modifications and experimentation with several prototypes. They renamed them the Flyin-Saucer in the wake of reported unidentified flying object-sightings. [5]

Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting

The Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting occurred on June 24, 1947, when private pilot Kenneth Arnold claimed that he saw a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying past Mount Rainier at speeds that Arnold estimated at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour (1,932 km/hr). This was the first post-War sighting in the United States that garnered nationwide news coverage and is credited with being the first of the modern era of UFO sightings, including numerous reported sightings over the next two to three weeks. Arnold's description of the objects also led to the press quickly coining the terms flying saucer and flying disc as popular descriptive terms for UFOs.

"We worked fairs, demonstrating it," Morrison told the Virginian-Pilot. The two of them once overheard someone saying that the pair were using wires to make the discs hover, [5] so they developed a sales pitch: "The Flyin-Saucer is free, but the invisible wire is $1." [6] "That's where we learned we could sell these things," he said, because people were enthusiastic about them. [5]

Morrison and Franscioni ended their partnership in early 1950, [5] and Morrison formed his own company in 1954 called American Trends to buy and sell Flyin Saucers, which were being made of a flexible polypropylene plastic by Southern California Plastics, the original molder. [4] He discovered that he could produce his own disc more cheaply, and he designed a new model in 1955 called the Pluto Platter, the archetype of all modern flying discs. He sold the rights to Wham-O on January 23, 1957. [4] [lower-alpha 1] In 1958, Morrison was awarded U.S. Design Patent D183,626 for his product.

In June 1957, Wham-O co-founders Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin gave the disc the brand name "Frisbee" after learning that college students were calling the Pluto Platter by that term, [9] which was derived from the Connecticut-based pie manufacturer Frisbie Pie Company, [10] a supplier of pies to Yale University where students had started a campus craze tossing empty pie tins stamped with the company's logo—the way that Morrison and his wife had in 1937. [5]

The first Frisbee (Professional Model) to be produced as a sport disc with the first disc sport tournament identification, the 1972 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships in Toronto Professional Model Frisbee Canadian Open 1972.jpg
The first Frisbee (Professional Model) to be produced as a sport disc with the first disc sport tournament identification, the 1972 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships in Toronto

The man behind the Frisbee's success, however, was Southern Californian Edward Headrick, hired in 1964 as Wham-O's general manager and vice president of marketing. Headrick redesigned the Pluto Platter by reworking the mold, mainly to remove the names of the planets, but fortuitously increasing the rim thickness and mass in the process, creating a more controllable disc that could be thrown more accurately. [11]

Wham-O changed their marketing strategy to promote Frisbee use as a new sport, and sales skyrocketed. In 1964, the first professional model went on sale. Headrick patented its design; it featured raised ridges (the "Rings of Headrick") that were claimed to stabilize flight. [12]

A memorial disc containing some of the ashes of Ed Headrick, on display at Ripley's Believe it or Not!, London Headrick Frisbee Ashes 001.jpg
A memorial disc containing some of the ashes of Ed Headrick, on display at Ripley's Believe it or Not!, London

Headrick became known as the father of Frisbee sports; [13] he founded the International Frisbee Association and appointed Dan Roddick as its head. Roddick began establishing North American Series (NAS) tournament standards for various Frisbee sports, such as Freestyle, Guts, Double Disc Court, and overall events. [14] Headrick later helped to develop the sport of disc golf by inventing standardized targets called "pole holes", [15] [16] that was first played with Frisbees and later with more aerodynamic beveled rim discs. Headrick was cremated, and his ashes were molded into memorial discs and given to family and close friends [17] and sold to benefit The Ed Headrick Memorial Museum. [18]

The Frisbee was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998. [19]

Disc sports

The IFT guts competitions in Northern Michigan, the Canadian Open Frisbee Championships (1972), Toronto, ON, the Vancouver Open Frisbee Championships (1974), Vancouver, BC, the Octad (1974), New Jersey, the American Flying Disc Open (1974), Rochester, NY and the World Frisbee Championships (1974), Pasadena, CA are the earliest Frisbee competitions that presented the Frisbee as a new disc sport. Before these tournaments, the Frisbee was considered a toy and used for recreation. [20]

Double disc court was invented and introduced in 1974 by Jim Palmeri, [21] a sport played with two flying discs and two teams of two players. Each team defends its court and tries to land a flying disc in the opposing court.

Dogs and their human flying disc throwers compete in events such as distance catching and somewhat choreographed freestyle catching. [22]

This is a precision and accuracy sport in which individual players throw a flying disc at a target pole hole. In 1926, In Bladworth, Saskatchewan, Canada, Ronald Gibson and a group of his Bladworth Elementary school chums played a game using metal lids, they called "Tin Lid Golf." In 1976, the game of disc golf was standardized with targets called "pole holes" invented and developed by Wham-O's Ed Headrick. [23]

In 1974, freestyle competition was created and introduced by Ken Westerfield and Discrafts Jim Kenner. Teams of two or three players are judged as they perform a routine that consists of a series of creative throwing and catching techniques set to music. [24]

A half-court disc game derived from Ultimate, similar to hot box. The object is to advance the disc on the field of play by passing, and score points by throwing the flying disc to a teammate in a small scoring area. [25]

Man plays KanJam KanJam.jpg
Man plays KanJam

The game of guts was invented by the Healy Brothers in the 1950s and developed at the International Frisbee Tournament (IFT) in Eagle Harbor, Michigan. Two teams of one to five team members stand in parallel lines facing each other across a court and throw flying discs at members of the opposing team. [26]

A patented game scoring points by throwing and deflecting the flying disc and hitting or entering the goal. The game ends when a team scores exactly 21 points or "chogs" the disc for an instant win. [27]

The most widely played disc game began in the late 1960s with Joel Silver and Jared Kass. In the 1970s it developed as an organized sport with Johnny Appleseeds and the creation of the Ultimate Players Association by Dan Roddick, Tom Kennedy and Irv Kalb. [28] The object of the game is to advance the disc and score points by eventually passing the disc to a team member in the opposing team's end zone. Players may not run while holding the disc. [29]

See also


  1. It is often mistakenly reported that the company began producing Frisbees on this date, [7] but production did not actually begin until a few months later. [8]

Related Research Articles

Ultimate (sport) team sport played with a disc

Ultimate, originally known as Ultimate frisbee, is a non-contact team sport played with a flying disc (frisbee). Ultimate was developed in 1968 by a group of students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City. Although Ultimate resembles many traditional sports in its athletic requirements, it is unlike most sports due to its focus on self-officiating, even at the highest levels of competition. The term frisbee, often used to generically describe all flying discs, is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company, and thus the sport is not formally called "Ultimate frisbee", though this name is still in common casual use. Points are scored by passing the disc to a teammate in the opposing end zone. Other basic rules are that players must not take steps while holding the disc, and interceptions, incomplete passes, and passes out of bounds are turnovers. Rain, wind, or occasionally other adversities can make for a testing match with rapid turnovers, heightening the pressure of play.

Guts or disc guts is a disc game inspired by dodgeball, involving teams throwing a flying disc at members of the opposing team.

Amateur sports Sport played by non professionals

Amateur sports are sports in which participants engage largely or entirely without remuneration. The distinction is made between amateur sporting participants and professional sporting participants, who are paid for the time they spend competing and training. In the majority of sports which feature professional players, the professionals will participate at a higher standard of play than amateur competitors, as they can train full-time without the stress of having another job. The majority of worldwide sporting participants are amateurs.

Flying disc freestyle

Flying disc freestyle, also known as freestyle Frisbee in reference to the trademarked brand name, is a sport and performing art characterized by creative, acrobatic, and athletic maneuvers with a flying disc. Freestyle is performed individually or more commonly in groups, both competitively and recreationally.


An Aerobie is a flying ring used in a manner similar to a chakram or flying disc (Frisbee), for recreational catches between two or more individuals. Its ring shape of only about 3 mm (0.12 in) thickness makes the Aerobie lighter and more stable in flight than a disc. It can be bent to tune it for straighter flight. Since it has very low drag and good stability, it can be thrown much farther than a flying disc. The Aerobie was used to set two former world records for thrown objects.

World Flying Disc Federation

The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) is the international governing body for flying disc sports, with responsibility for sanctioning world championship events, establishing uniform rules, setting of standards for and recording of world records. WFDF is a federation of member associations which represent flying disc sports and their athletes in 80 countries. WFDF is an international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a member of ARISF, GAISF, and the International World Games Association, and it is a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation in the state of Colorado, USA.

Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course is a section of the Fairmount Park System located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. A section of East Fairmount Park since 1977, Sedgley Woods is one of the oldest permanent pole-hole disc golf courses in the world. It has been host to over 2 million pole-holes of Disc Golf. The Friends of Sedgley Woods administer the course, provide grounds keeping, run monthly tournaments, a yearlong tag-challenge, community out reach programs, best-disc doubles events, and large events in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Disc Club and the Professional Disc Golf Association.

Irwin Toy toy company in Canada

Irwin Toy Limited was a Canadian distributor and manufacturer of toys. It was Canada's oldest toy company and remained independent and family owned until 2001.

Tom Monroe (disc golfer) American disc golfer

Tom Monroe is a champion of virtually all flying disc sports, including ultimate, freestyle, field events and especially disc golf.

Frisbie Pie Company 1871 company from Bridgeport, Connecticut

The Frisbie Pie Company was founded in 1871 by William Russell Frisbie in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when he bought and renamed a branch of the Olds Baking Company. The company was located on Kossuth Street in Bridgeport's East Side, where nearby schoolchildren tossed the plates around and yelled "Frisbie" to alert others to avoid the spinning tins. The game the children played made its way to nearby college campuses.

Canadian Ultimate Championships also known as CUC is an annual Ultimate Frisbee tournament organised by Ultimate Canada and the player association of the city where the championships are held. Until 2016, all divisions were hosted in the same location. Beginning in 2016 the mixed divisions have been held as a separate event.

Ultimate Canada

Ultimate Canada is a not-for-profit organization that serves as the governing body of the sport of Ultimate in Canada. It runs the Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC) and Canadian University Ultimate Championship (CUUC) series.

Ken Westerfield American frisbee player

Ken Westerfield is a pioneering Frisbee disc player.

Throwing sports sports where an object is thrown

Throwing sports, or throwing games, are physical, human competitions where the outcome is measured by a player's ability to throw an object.

Ed Headrick

Ed Headrick, also known as "Steady" Ed Headrick, was an American toy inventor. Headrick served in combat in the army in WWII and was a deep-sea welder. He is most well-known as the father of both the modern-day Frisbee and of the sport and game of disc golf.


  1. "Flying Disc World Records" . Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  2. Overview of Trademark Law: Can trademark rights be lost?
  3. Losing Grip on the Frisbee
  4. 1 2 3 4 Kennedy, Phil. "The History of the Frisbee®" (PDF). Wormhole Publishers. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Swift, Earl (May 27, 2007). "50 years later, Frisbee still flying high". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  6. Walsh, Tim (October 2005). Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 138. ISBN   9780740755712.
  7. Latson, Jennifer (January 23, 2015). "How Frisbees Got Off the Ground". Time . Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  8. Eisenhood, Charlie (January 23, 2017). "On This Day: Wham-O Acquires Rights to Frisbee in 1957 | Livewire". Ultiworld. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  9. "'Frisbee' Marks 50th Anniversary of Name Change". CTVglobemedia. June 16, 2007. Archived from the original on November 1, 2007. Retrieved June 19, 2007.
  10. "Frisbee Inventor Dies at 90 -". CNN. February 12, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  11. Morrison, Fred; Phil Kennedy (January 2006). Flat Flip Flies Straight! True Origins of the Frisbee. Wethersfield, CT: Wormhole Publishers. ISBN   978-0-9774517-4-6. OCLC   233974379. Fred Morrison: "Headrick had an eye for product design…. The "NEW LOOK" contributed mightily to its phenomenal success."
  12. The First Flight of the Frisbee: The History of the Frisbee
  13. Malafronte, Victor A. (1998). F. Davis Johnson (ed.). The Complete Book of Frisbee: The History of the Sport & the First Official Price Guide. Rachel Forbes (illus.). Alameda, Cal.: American Trends Publishing Company. ISBN   0-9663855-2-7. OCLC   39487710.
  14. "History of Frisbee sport and Flying Disc freestyle". Formative Years. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  15. "Ed Headrick, Designer of the Modern Frisbee, Dies at 78". New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2002.
  16. "The History of Disc Golf". Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  17. "Edward 'Steady Ed' Headrick" Find A Grave.
  18. Steady Ed Memorial Discs Disc Golf Association
  19. ""Wham-O Frisbee Disc"". Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  20. "History of Frisbee and Flying Disc freestyle". Development of Frisbee and disc sports. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  21. "Jim Palmeri". Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  22. Perry, Jeff (2011). Disc Dogs! A Beginner's Guide. Hyperflite. ISBN   9780981723747.
  23. DDGA. "History of Disc Golf" . Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  24. FPA. "History of Frisbee and Flying Disc Freestyle" . Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  25. "Goaltimate Rules". World Goaltimate Association. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  26. Veale, Brandon (July 6, 2012). "Boggio boosted Guts frisbee in 1960s". The Daily Mining Gazette. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  27. Robison, Daniel (November 2, 2012). "'Trash Can Frisbee' – a local game – goes global as KanJam". WBFO 88.7. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  28. "Special Merit the Johnny Appleseeds" (PDF). USA Ultimate Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  29. "History of Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Sports" . Retrieved December 25, 2017.

Further reading

  • Stancil E. D. Johnson (1975). Frisbee: A Practitioner's Manual and Definitive Treatise. ISBN   978-0-911104-53-0.
  • Horowitz, Judy; Bloom, Billy (1984). Frisbee: More Than a Game of Catch. Macmillan Reference USA. ISBN   978-0-88011-105-8.
  • Norton, Gary, The Official Frisbee Handbook, New York, Toronto, London: Bantam Books, 1972
  • Danna, Mark; Poynter, Dan (1980). Frisbee Players' Handbook. Para Pub. ISBN   978-0-915516-19-3.
  • Tips, Charles; Roddick, Dan (1979). Frisbee, sports and games. Celestial Arts Publishing Company. ISBN   978-0-89087-233-8.
  • Tips, Charles (1977). Frisbee by the Masters. Celestial Arts Publishing Company. ISBN   978-0-89087-142-3.
  • Morrison, Fred; Kennedy, Phil (2006). Flat Flip Flies Straight: True Origins of the Frisbee. ISBN   978-0-9774517-4-6.
  • Lorenz, Ralph (2006). Spinning flight: dynamics of frisbees, boomerangs, samaras, and skipping stones. Springer Verlag. ISBN   978-0-387-30779-4.