To look at it simply, a Magic 8 ball is a fortune telling tool that has made its way into popular culture as a game or novelty item.
It is designed to bring an actual billiard ball to mind, being black, shiny and round, and featuring a number 8 – but also a circular section where you can see your explanation. If you are familiar with the game of pool, it is easily recognizable as a giant version.
It will give you answers and predictions to any question you can throw at it, but these responses may or may not be true. In fact, some of the returns it gives are purposefully ambiguous and allow the user to make up their own mind about what may or may not happen.
Modern Online Magic 8 balls are made from plastic and are filled with a dark-colored liquid. This is visible through a round hole in the side of it (opposite to where you would expect to find the number 8) and floating in the middle is a small implement that is similar to a die.
Different responses are printed on the sides of this die, but it is no ordinary die – some can give up to twenty different feedbacks. The die is shaken by agitating the entire device, and when the die settles down it will float into position in the window, revealing the answer.
There is nothing magic about the manufacturing process, it is exactly what it is – a plastic globe filled with blue goop. But for those who believe, even something as ordinary as this can have magical properties. Have you ever walked along a street and thought about a red car? How many red cars have you seen then? Probably more than normal!
Does this mean the universe bends to your will? Or does it mean you are more attuned to seeing particular things? The scientists will argue about this for a long time, but it shows that your internal perception can have an effect on the external world.
This not only are you using your mind, but you are also physically in contact with the tool. This means that any vibrations or involuntary micro-motions made by your muscles will have an effect on the result. It is directly attuned to what you are thinking!
Similarly, if you question the it through the Internet, the exact timing of your question and your physical contact with the keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen will have the potential to affect the result. That’s the true magic of this – no matter how you think it produces the responses, everyone loves to have a go and find out what it tell them. There are no special skills needed, and if you are that way inclined you don’t have to pay any attention to any Magic 8 ball answer it gives you. But everyone agrees it is lots of fun, and they are always ready for another go.
If you guess the outcome correctly, you go free. If you guess wrong, you are penalized. The penalty frame is usually a big sip of beer, wine, or a shot. Of course, you can regulate this so that you get to something that lies within one’s normal drinking habits.
Keep in mind, it’s not about breaking people – it’s about getting everyone into a good mood while making them smile and laugh.
Additionally, one can also guess who asked the question - if you want to push the fun to the max. If you guess correctly, the person who asked it should drink an extra shot. However, it is not mandatory to ask such questions. You will also have to take a shot yourself if you guess wrong.
You can also ask it if a specific person needs to do something. The rules for this are very simple. You simply ask whether one of the other participants should do something, and then, the mythical Magic 8 ball will determine whether it should be done or not. Here, you can make rules that are with or without alcohol. Here, you will undoubtedly find some of the most fun party moments.
Many certainly know this mythical bullet from the television, where they learned about it at one point or another. You’ve probably seen it on a TV series or movie, where it has been shaken after a question, after which a response is received. Many might even recognize the orb from the extremely popular TV series, “Friends”, where Ross used it to find the reson to one of life’s biggest questions.
Imagine the whole scenario, where you are with other people, and you use this mysterious machine to determine the outcomes of different scenarios. The responses are random, and you will likely burst out laughing many times while using this orb.
It is now often seen on TV and in movies, including in the tremendously popular series Friends, as well as the Toy Story movies. The House With a Clock in its Walls also features a Magic 8 ball, as did the TV shows Scrubs, Spongebob Squarepants, Seinfeld, iCarly, and many others.
Just to show that fortune telling and psychic communication have remained popular throughout the years, don’t forget that the movie Big featured a fortune telling machine that was important to the plot – while not a Online Magic 8 ball, it served the same purpose!
The orb is made on a production line in the same way that many other toys are made. It is currently made from an assortment of plastics and contains a mysterious blue liquid. Exactly how it is put together and made to work may have been a bit of a mystery to you - until now.
To understand how it is put together, you must look at the history of the development. The original design was a long tube filled blue goop, split in the middle with a 6-sided die in each end.
Flipping the gadget allowed the die to float to the top and have one face viewable through a small window – each side of the die had a different message inscribed on it. Flipping it again allowed the user to view the answer that would show at the opposite end.
The modern Magic 8 ball online works in a very similar way. The round orb is actually just a shell that houses an internal tube. Unlike the original, this tube only has one viewable end, but the important part to note is that the entirety is not filled with a aqua – it is only this tube that contains it.
The original tool received a patent in the 1940s and was known as a liquid-filled dice agitator, which is exactly with the current. By shaking or moving the orb around, the die is agitated within the liquid, and will float to the top.
There are several significant changes to be aware of since the initial offering. One of the biggest problems (and most complained about issues) of the early models was that shaking the device could result in bubbles forming in the liquid. According to some sources, shaking the it is not necessary to obtain a different result, just a small flick of the wrist can do it. As shaking was common, the bubble problem was also very common. These bubbles could impede the motion of the die, but of course you could still get a random result. However, and more importantly, the build up of bubbles would often obscure the viewing window.
This would make it difficult to determine what the result was, which really is the entire point of using a Magic 8 ball. Since the 1970s, the tube has been redesigned with a funnel and bubble trap, greatly reducing if not entirely eliminating this problem. The bubble trap was invented when Ideal Toys bought the original manufacturers in 1971, and the trap itself was subsequently patented in 1975.
But what about the mysterious blue liquid itself? Is it imbued with psychic powers? Is it made in a secret ritual that only a global elite of 17 people know the true ingredients of? No. It’s quite simply a blue dye mixed with alcohol. Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s about as simple as it gets.
Of more interest is the die. Six options would never be enough in this day and age, and so the standard includes a 20-sided die, known as an icosahedron. This is a shape that borders on spherical, and each face is triangular in shape.
The whole die is made of white plastic and features raised white letters to display the answers. The die is evenly weighted, making any option as likely to appear as any other. The responses on the traditional die are generally positive, with 25% being negative. This generally makes it a pleasant experience if asking multiple questions, as it is more likely to agree with you than to disagree with you.
There are openings on the die for the blue dye and alcohol to enter. This makes the die only very slightly buoyant, which is why it floats very slowly to the viewing window. The dark dye is no longer thick and mysterious, it’s just that the die doesn’t float very well.
In the original designs, the dye was thicker, which accounted for this effect. The current consistency is not that much different to plain water.
The Online Magic 8 ball is not new, and has been around since the 1940s or 50s. It was inspired by a gadget that was alleged to be able to communicate with the spirit world, which is where some of the beliefs surrounding itself come from.
Made famous through the medium of film and television, it was mass-produced. You might find it strange that a device that has a history of spirit-communication could be made in such a way, but consider this: the Ouija Board, the well-known board with letters on that is still used today to talk to ghosts, was manufactured as a board game from the 1890s and sold in the thousands – and was consider to be a fun diversion rather than a tool for spiritualists.
The Online Magic 8 ball suffers no such pretensions though, for even if people do believe it is powered by spirits, it has never been party to this claim. What it provide is a diversion from the troubles of everyday life, and perhaps gives you a little bit of insight into how your future will be (or at the very least how you might want it to be). Can it be relied on to give accurate results for any question? That’s up to you to decide.
We have received many inquiries from people asking us how to use this globule practically - seeing as what comes from it is true. These are just a few of the returns that are randomly selected. You’re right about it, but it definitely does not change the fact that it can create a lot of fun.
The Magic 8 ball answers have no favorites and will give everyone what it sees fit. If you want to know what the Online Magic 8 ball has to say about a problem or situation in your life, why don’t you ask it a question right now? Several thousand people our tool everyday. You just need to ask a question, and click the button. We will provide many different suggestions on how to use this amazing tool. You won’t understand how you ever lived your life without making use of this amazing object.
This crystal, as some call it, is an element that can be helpful when you want an interpretation to some of life greatest mysteries. Most people have a natural curiosity (and anxiety) after finding the key stone to all the great things in life.
In addition, most people, at some point or another, are in some form of conflict or discussion whereby they cannot agree. Is there anything more neutral than letting a nice billiard globoid determining the outcome of it? Of course not! Don’t take things like tarot cards, hand readings, and other similar things seriously.
In the sense that you can see, hold, and use it in a very physical sense, of course the Online Magic 8 ball is real! But does it have the ability to predict the future? That’s much harder to say.
This online tool is sold as a toy, and as such is not considered to be serious device to be used for predicting the future. However, its roots are entangled with spiritualism and fortune telling, so the potential for accurate results is there.
As with many things, its capabilities can be accepted on faith. If you want to believe that it will give you accurate predictions, then that option is open, but many people will only treat it as a pastime, something to be played with.
Interestingly, many scientific studies have been performed on psychic abilities and trying to predict the future. The results have generally shown that it is not something that is easily proven, and most so-called psychic events do not happen exactly as people expect.
One factor that has been shown to have an effect is to concentrate on one particular outcome, and to expect that it will happen. In self-reported studies (which can be prone to bias) it has been shown that this often works. For example, if you are looking for “THE SIGN IS YES”, and you concentrate on that phrase, you may find it comes up quite often. In reality, there is a 1 in 20 chance of it appearing, and you are now predisposed to notice it.
If you’ve not seen a yellow car in a very long time, the next time you go out, you’ll probably see one. This is caused by your brain subconsciously searching for a yellow car – the thing you are focusing on. The yellow cars were probably always there, you just didn’t notice them last time you went out as you weren’t looking for them.
Some will say that this shows you can influence the universe around you with your thoughts, and if that is the case, then the Magic 8 ball certainly is real – it would be foolish to think otherwise.
Most people will fall on the side of caution, and agree that you are just more likely to notice things when you are focused on them. It is difficult to prove which one it is, as even in quantum physics particles can change their behavior just by being observed! This is because electrons within atoms behave as waves until they are observed, at which stage they begin to behave as particles – the observation itself forces this process.
If science says that the future of a particle can be changed just by looking at it, who are we to argue that the result can’t predict or even alter the future? It is no longer a matter of faith or belief, but proven scientific fact.
Two threads led to the creation of the Magic 8 ball as we know it today, and although they sound bizarrely different, the threads have more in common than it first appears.
Let’s get started by establishing what those two threads are – they are a psychic medium (who may not have been psychic at all) and the films of The Three Stooges. Are you convinced yet?
The Three Stooges is the easiest to explain. In their 1940 Three Stooges short, “You Nazty Spy!”, an oversized billiard pellet is used as a fortune telling tool. This may have served as part of the inspiration – it certainly looks very similar, even if the method for using it isn’t quite the same.
The other part of the story takes us back over a hundred years to the late 1800s. The world was a very different place at the time, and there was no internet or TV to provide entertainment. Going out to bars or shows at the theater was an option but could prove to be expensive. An alternative was meeting with friends and holding parties at home, which helped to pass the time in the evenings…as did trying to communicate with long-dead ghosts.
Yes, you read that right. Spiritualism was massively popular, and psychics were considered celebrities – it’s quite interesting to note that the human race is still intrigued by death and communicating with people from beyond the grave, as evidenced by TV shows that still make use of similar tricks and techniques that were used over 100 years ago.
For the psychics and mediums involved, providing a reading was a great way of making a living. The better your performance, the more you were likely to get paid. This does not discount that there may have be some genuine clairvoyants at the time, but if you couldn’t put on a great display, you might not get asked to another home – and if you wanted to make your money, you needed as many appointments as you could get.
Tricks were developed over time to allow for such things as clicks, knocks, and bangs to be delivered on cue. A medium going into a trance and speaking in a different voice was common, as was receiving messages from the beyond by the use of different tools, including Ouija boards and spirit writing implements.
A gadget called a planchette could be used by a group of people, each touching it. Free moving, it held a pen or other writing instrument, and the combined motions from the assembly could leave a written message on a piece of paper. It worked in a similar way to a glass being moved around a table or on a Ouija board – it was either controlled by “spirits” or the subconscious muscle contractions of the people who were touching it.
As time went on, the popularity of such entertainment waned as others came to the fore, but there was always a place for a good medium.
In Cincinnati, one such clairvoyant was Mary Carter. She had a fantastic party trick (or talent, if you prefer) with a construction she invented. Known as the Psycho-Slate, it appeared as a chalkboard inside a lidded box. During a séance, Mary would allow one of the assembled participants to ask a question. She would close the lid and the sound of scratching on the chalkboard could be heard. Upon opening the box, a response would have been written on the chalkboard!
Her son, Albert C Carter, thought it would be great to have a portable version. Taking inspiration from his mother, he came up with a prototype of what became the Magic 8 ball. If consisted of a long tube, rather than a globule, filled with a dark goop. The tube was divided into two, and each end held a six-sided die. Revisions and design updates were made by Albert and others, and the tube became a crystal with a 20-sided die inside. Unfortunately, it was still a bit of a flop and didn’t sell particularly well.
Further revisions followed, and a fortuitous message from the Brunswick Billiards company, based in Chicago turned the fortunes of the crystal around. Brunswick needed something that was a little “out there” to use as a promotional item, and here was the idea – how about stop making it as a crystal and make it look like a billiard pellet instead?
The Magic 8 ball was based on an idea by Mary Carter, a clairvoyant in Cincinnati in the 1940s. As part of her performance, she would let “spirits” write a message on a chalkboard in a closed box. Mary called this tool the Psycho-Slate, and it is most likely that the board was not written on by spirits at all, but was instead a particularly clever trick in the style of stage magicians.
Her son, Albert C Carter, decided that a portable fortune telling tool would be popular with the public and so developed the idea into what he called the “Syco-Seer”. The idea was simple – you just think of or ask out loud a question with a yes/no answer, and the gadget will do the rest. This was the first instance of the technology that exists inside a modern Magic 8 ball.
Albert built a tube that was separated into two compartments, one at each end. Each compartment was filled with a thick dark liquid (some sources suggest it may even have been molasses) and had a six-sided die placed in it. Each die had a message carved on each face instead of numbers. A lid with a viewing window was attached to each end, and by flipping the contraption over, the die on that side would make its way to the top and display its message through the window. Psychic or random? It didn’t really matter, as it was the effect that counted.
In 1944, Albert built a prototype and applied for a patent. He began to show the device at toy shops and called it a “Miracle Home Fortune Teller” – only just a step away from his mother’s clairvoyant shows. Eventually, Albert found an interested shopkeeper by the name of Max Levinson. In fact, he was so interested, he wanted to get involved in the production and marketing of the toy. Max introduced Albert to his brother-in-law, Abe Bookman (some sources say Buchman) who was an engineer.
People always find stories about exciting mythical things – probably because, as human beings, we tend to be drawn to the mythical and the unknown. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the world has been taken by storm by the tales surrounding the classic Ouija Board.
The idea that one could reach beyond this realm, using real development methods and a special board, quickly became a hit. As the board states, you can connect with the dead and ask them questions - if you follow the instructions correctly. This became a craze that dominated much of the 20th century.
Another idea that was extremely popular among clairvoyant people was “The Magic 8 ball.” The round first originated from the billiard game, becoming an object that was chosen to be a clairvoyant party favorite.
The Magic 8 ball was developed as an advertising product, commissioned by Chicago’s Brunswick Billiards; a very famous company in the billiard world. Brunswick was attracted to a small Alabe Craft’s product called the Crystal Ball, which did not sell particularly well. The product was still very special. It had a spherical shape but, in the middle, there was a bluish aqua that revealed either a “yes” or “no” response. The round was very interesting to Brunswick, and they simply had to own this toy - which they had big plans for.
Well, to be fair, it had happened before. If it was good enough for the Three Stooges, it would be good enough for the Brunswick Billiards Company!
It may have been the madness of a fortune telling globe that led to success, but the timing may also have played a factor. Previously, America had been involved in World War II, and up until 1950 everyone was either in recovery from the war, or worrying about what would happen next – but a crystal wouldn’t provide any real acknowledgment.
Reimagined as what was obviously a toy, the public lapped it up. The hard times were over, and new things were on the horizon. It found its market, settled in its niche, and has become more popular as the years have gone by.
From the outside, it seems that all outcomes from this magic globe are incredibly random and based on an RNG algorithm. However; if you want to know if these outcomes are truly random, think carefully and only ask the question once. There is a general understanding that if you put the same question into it several times, the outcome will change and you will not experience the same result.
People who do this clearly don’t want to know the correct solution to their questions. People re-use the globe to hear what they really want to hear. The first word that appears will always be the correct one. So; if you asked if you will win the lottery, and the Magic 8 ball said you wouldn’t, don’t bother to ask again.
This round globe, however, was not Alabe Craft’s first attempt at a toy, which was composed of a dark blue fluid. The original idea for the toy’s predecessor dates back to a man named Alfred Carter, whose mother was a clairvoyant. She claimed that she could communicate with ghosts, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first reproduction of the playful toy was “Syco-Seer: The Miracle Home Fortune Teller,” patented in 1944 by Carter and his brother, Abe Bookman. Abe helped Carter with production and distribution. Together, Bookman and Carter developed Alabe Crafts. “Alabe” was a composition of “Alfred” and “Abe.”
In 1946, the product developed into the more compact and cheaper to produce “Syco-Slate: The Pocket Fortune Teller.” Both of these toys featured dark blue wax inside, through which one would be able to receive a response.
As a marketing ploy, it was decorated with zodiac signs and demonstrated in stores by “gypsy fortune tellers”. With the new look, the lower price, and smaller size, Abe thought he had a winner on his hands. Unfortunately, the sales still didn’t improve. Racking his brains, Abe couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t going to well. Then, it struck him – how do you have your fortune told? With a small tube or a crystal?
The next iteration of design saw the tube being encased in a clear shiny globe. This brought with it an upgrade to the dice – the 6-sided ones were banished, and replaced with a 20-sided one instead. A psychology professor named Lucien Cohen was hired to write the 20 required responses. Many more, a product that truly looked the part, and the involvement of an academic – surely the device was ready for the big time! It wasn’t. Sales were sill miserable, as was Abe Bookman.
Just as he was about to give up the whole thing as a bad idea that had only gotten worse, the Brunswick Billiards Company got in touch. The Chicago firm needed a promotional product and wondered if it would be possible to change the crystal pellet design.
The Brunswick Billiard Company quickly got through their stock, and Abe began receiving calls asking for more – but not just from Brunswick. It seemed that the globe had finally hit the sweet spot, and everybody wanted one.
The success and growth in sales continued, and in 1971, Alabe Crafts was bought by Ideal Toys. Ideal implemented a new feature to help prevent bubbles forming in the viewing window with the use of a funnel and a bubble trap. This idea was patented in 1975, and every Magic 8 ball made since then has incorporated a bubble trap.
Between 1982 and 1985, CBS bought and sold Ideal on to View-Master – they discovered that being a broadcaster was much easier and more profitable that selling toys. View-Master, known for their 3D image viewers as well as Magna-Doodle, was in turn bought by Tyco Toys in 1989.
Tyco had been around for over 60 years at this stage, and were well-known for train sets, later branching out into character-based products. In 1997, Tyco were sold to Mattel, who are now the current manufacturers of the product. The View-Master and Magna-Doodle products ended up under the Fisher Price brand.
For the original inventors, the sales of the modern toy would be an absolute delight – around 1 million Magic 8 balls are sold every year. Not bad for a toy that was based on an idea from a clairvoyant using a box of tricks!
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I always wonder - but no more. Now I know.