Catherine Hettinger, a 63-year-old American who invented Spinner, the toy that captivated the hearts of children around the world, said the idea of making the toy was actually born in Israel with the goal of creating peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In a conversation with the British Guardian, she said that in the 1980s she visited her sister in Israel, when one day she saw Palestinian youths throwing stones at policemen and bystanders. At that moment she began to think of an invention that would engage the Palestinian children, and that instead of going wild they would play with it. Her initial idea was to produce a soft stone that they could throw and get out their frustration, but in the end she gave up. Catherine went back home to Orlando, where her energetic 7-year-old daughter was waiting for her, and then came up the idea that's now conquering the world: She invented the Spinner.
The Spinner is a small toy in the shape of a rounded triangle. When you hold the center, you can rotate it. Many children like to compete with one another for who can spin his Spinner for the longest time. The toy also provides children with busy work for their own hands, like the Yo-Yo that was a hit in the past.
“Originally I wanted to find a way to help promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Katherine said. “Then I wanted to find something to distract my daughter because I was sick and could not collect her toys or play with her much. I started making toys out of newspaper and tape…she would play with it and each time we would change the shape, it calmed her and preoccupied her. Together we designed the spinner,” she added. “I do not understand why 20 years later it's suddenly such a hit, but I'm glad kids enjoy it.”
You'd think that Catherine would be living in lovely house, driving luxury cars, and buy herself a yacht. But it’s not so: she lives modestly in Florida, and hasn’t earned a half-dollar from the toy she invented which is now sold at a dizzying pace, its supply outstripped by demand. In the interview, she explained how this happened. She held the patent rights for eight years, but gave up 12 years ago because she could not afford to pay $400 to renew the license. She approached Hasbro at the time and they rejected it. Catherine insists that despite the huge opportunity she missed, she is not angry or bitter: “People are asking, 'aren't you upset, you lost so much money and see where you are now? But I'm happy that I made something that people enjoy and helps alot of children.
She actually is producing her original spinner and selling it in a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign. Her spinner is actually round instead of a triangle and she calls it the classic spinner. We wish her much success!