The story begins in 1937
A frisbee is a disc. The very first of its kind was made from Bakelite (90 gr and 20 cm in diameter), with a curved rim which creates a rotational movement when the disc is thrown, allowing it to glide over a certain distance.
Walter Frederick Morrison was inspired to invent this projectile while watching students at Yale throwing the cake pans of the Frisbie Pie Company, the campus’ official supplier, at each other.
He then further refined his invention’s aerodynamics to enable it to fly in a straight line and remain stable in flight. He began selling them on California’s beaches under the name of “Flying-Saucer”, in reference to the flying saucers that were all over the news at the time! Now made from plastic, most often polyethylene, the small disc is easy to transport, hard-wearing, lightweight and highly accurate, and is above all very affordable: it remains one of the world’s most popular beach games!
In 1957, the California-based Wham-O games company purchased his invention and began selling it under the name of “Pluto Platter” and subsequently rechristened Frisbee a year later, in reference to the Frisbie Pie Company. Over 200 million units were sold.
From throwing cake pans to a competitive sport
Competition Frisbees (175 gr and 28 cm in diameter) first appeared in 1960 and the Wham-O games company created the International Frisbee Association, with its own rules, clubs and competitions. Several events such as disc-golf, freestyle, dog frisbee and others are played with a frisbee but the best known and the most popular is Ultimate frisbee. It is an atypical team sport that promotes fair play (there is no referee) and is played by both men and women at the same time. It can be played on grass, indoors, or on sand.
Nowadays, competitions are held throughout the world with more than a million participants. There is an Ultimate Frisbee World Championship, and the discipline was recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2015. It remains to be seen whether the small flying disc will be selected from among many other candidates to be a new Olympic sport for the 2024 Games in Paris. Find out in Milan in 2019!