Documentation of the WordWand toy invention by Chris Clement in early 1980's.




Word Wand concept

The word wand concept came to me while driving to work around 1980-1981. There was a radio tower dead ahead for several minutes of driving just before dawn. The strobe lights at, and near, the top to warn aircraft were also visible to me as patterns of dots that persisted in my field of vision. At work, I watched my dot matrix printer spew out Fortran code and noticed how the letters were formed from a moving column of wire pins making dots on the paper. I went to Radio Shack the next day and bought leds and NE2's to experiment with and after a few weeks, had a working protoptype. I submitted the idea to Ideal Toy Company but they rejected it. I discovered they had almost exactly the same idea and called their product "Skywriter". I think they just had someone there who came up with the same idea, maybe even the same way. They pulled their product off the market shortly afterward.

In 2012 I decided to resurrect this idea with modern high-intensity lighting elements and explore long-distance viewing applications.

"Word Wand Magic Lantern" (C) 1980 TM

WW4 Arduino Program

Textable version

Word Wand Magic Lantern