Origin of the Yoyo
The word "yoyo" originated from the Philippine language, Tagalong. Many believe "yoyo" was a Tagalong word for "come-come" or "return". Now a favorite toy of the people everywhere, some believe that the yo-yo was originally used as a weapon. The main difference between the Filipino design and more primitive yo-yos is in the way the yo-yo is strung. In older yo-yo designs, the string is tied to the axle using a knot. With this technique, the yo-yo just goes up and down, but it is impossible to make it sleep.
In 1866 James L. Haven and Charles Hettrick changed the world of toys by creating the first modern yoyo. However, the yo-yo would not catch on until sixty years later. In 1928 a Filipino American named Pedro Flores opened the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California. The business started with a dozen handmade toys. In approximately one year, Pedro was operating two additional factories in Los Angeles and Hollywood, which altogether employed 600 workers and produced 300,000 units daily. Hence, starting the yoyo era.
One year after Pedro started manufacturing yo-yos, an entrepreneur named Donald Duncan saw a profit in the toy industry. Therefore he purchased the Flores Yo-yo Corporation and all its assets. In 1932 Duncan's created his first yo-yo called the Duncan O-BOY. Duncan invested more than $250,000, into his new yo-yo franchise. A risky investment during the depression but proved to be profitable. In 1946, the Duncan Toys Company opened a yo-yo factory in Luck, Wisconsin, prompting the town to dub itself yo-yo Capital of the World. Duncan Yo-yo is still one of the largest and most recognized yo-yo company in the world. During the Second World War declines in yoyo sales prompted Duncan to try a new way of advertising. In 1962 Duncan began advertising on television. The advertisements were extremely successful. This was primarily due to Duncan’s newest product the Duncan Butterfly. This yoyo appealed to beginners because it was easier to learn tricks on the Butterfly yoyo. Duncan would have trouble in the next few years. The company lost exclusive rights to the yo-yo in 1965. As a result of the expenses caused by legal fees would inevitably force the Duncan family sell the company in 1968 to Flambeau, Inc, had been in a partnership with Duncan, providing Duncan's plastic models since the mid 1950’s. Flambeau Plastics continues to run the company to this day. In 1999 the Duncan yo-yo was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York.
Advancing the Yoyo
The 1970s and 1980s changed the yo-yo world forever, primarily changing 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 yo-yo that could be taken apart. This allowed yo-yo players to change the axle allowing a new type of yo-yo play. In 1980, Michael Caffrey created what would later be known as the Yomega Brain, a yo-yo with a centrifugal clutch transaxle. Designed with a free-spinning plastic sleeve linkage. The Brain could sleep much longer than the previous fixed-axle designs. In 1984 a Swedish bearing company manufactured novelty yo-yos with ball bearings. 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. This created a new age of yo-yoing and allowed yo-yoers to create new tricks that seemed impossible with the older fixed-axle designs. The 1990s came with a newfound interest in yo-yos and yo-yo culture. In 1990, Tom Kuhn released the Silver Bullet 2 yo-yo, a high-performance ball bearing transaxle made with aluminum. This marked a major breakthrough for the modern yo-yo. This ensured longer sleeping and the ability to do returns as well. This yo-yo, eventually gave Kuhn the title "Father of the modern yo-yo". In 1998 He received the first "Donald F. Duncan Family Award for Industry Excellence". Yomega partnered with HPK Marketing and helped fuel the yo-yo boom that spread across the globe. From this partnership, Team High Performance was born, a group of skilled demonstrators that toured the world. This caused a global interest in yo-yoing. As yo-yo continue to advance so will peoples interest in this toy. This simple toy has had a significant affect on the global culture as well as possibly being considered as one of Americas most appreciated and recognized toy.