Sunday, July 8, 2012

Norman Sas, inventor of Electric Football, dies at 87


Norman Sas the inventor of Electric Football died June 28 at age 87, Jay Levin of the Bergen Record reports.

Sas invented it in 1948 and introduced it a year later. But it wasn’t until 1967, when he signed a deal with NFL Properties, the National Football League’s product licensing division, that the plastic players represented actual NFL teams and Electric Football really took off.

It consisted of a metal playing field. Two teams of 11 plastic football players, each standing on a rectangular base with prongs on the bottom and a knob on the side. At the beginning of each play, the human "coach" sets the players in the desired position and puts the football in the hands of one. A switch is flicked, the gridiron vibrates and the players move — often hilariously in every which direction. Occasionally the player with the ball "runs" to daylight.

"For the first 10 years, we generated more money for NFL Properties than anyone else," Mr. Sas said in a 1998 Washington Post story about the Electric Football phenomenon. "Then the [video] games came out, and that was the beginning of the end."

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