The first ever public appearance of Electric Football. The 1949 March issue of Playthings.
One of the first Electric Football mysteries we set out to solve in The Unforgettable Buzz was the year of the game’s debut.
Was it 1947 or 1949?
The 1947 date first appeared when Miggle Toys resurrected the game in the early 1990’s. In the Miggle literature, and also in the descriptions that accompanied Electric Football games in catalogs like Back To Basics, the 1947 date was prominent. But while doing some of our early research, someone told us that the date for Electric Football was actually 1949.
And that “someone” just happened to be Norman Sas.
Norman told us that he didn’t arrive at Tudor until 1948, so it was impossible for Electric Football to have been invented in 1947. Norman also joked that if Tudor and his father Elmer had invented Electric Football in 1947, there wouldn’t have been any need for Norman to become Tudor’s president in 1948. So if the man who was credited with inventing Electric Football said 1949, then…why wouldn’t it be?
From that point on we were determined to find something definitive on the date. Yes, Norman’s word was pretty definitive, but there had to be more, there had to be a paper record or trail to confirm the date of the game. It took us a few more years, but we did find a trail in the form of the toy industry journal Playthings (see Chapter 3 of The Unforgettable Buzz for more about Playthings).
What we found was this:
1) No mention of Electric Football in any 1947 issue of Playthings.
2) No mention of Electric Football in any 1948 issue of Playthings.
Tudor’s 1949 ad for their “New Electrical Action Games.” Three are named, but only Electric Football was sold in 1949.
3) The July 1948 issue of Playthings contains an announcement of Norman Sas taking over Tudor.
4) First public record of Electric Football comes in the 1949 March issue of Playthings, with an article about Tudor’s “New” Electric Football game. Tudor also runs a full-page ad announcing the company’s New Electrical Action games.
5) 1949 September Playthings – an article about Tudor’s “new” Electric Football game including a picture of the No. 500 model.
6) 1950 February Playthings – article on page 289 where Tudor V.P. Joe Tonole recounts the 1949 success of the Tudor’s new electric football game. A photo of the game is part of the article.
When you add this documentation trail to Norman’s words the verdict is clear. Electric Football’s first year of public existence was 1949. As for the question of when Norman invented the game? That would be after he arrived at Tudor in 1948.
This level of research and detective work can be found throughout The Unforgettable Buzz. It was the only way to get the story of Electric Football “right.”
Earl & Roddy