What is this popular vintage toy called?
The Tinkertoy Construction Set was created in 1914, by Charles H. Pajeau, who formed the Toy Tinker Company in Evanston, Illinois to manufacture them.
Pajeau, a stonemason, designed the toy after seeing children play with sticks and empty spools of thread. Pajeau partnered with Robert Pettit and Gordon Tinker to market a toy that would allow and inspire children to use their imaginations. After an initially slow start, over a million were sold.
The cornerstone of the set is a wooden spool roughly two inches (5 cm) in diameter, with holes drilled every 45 degrees around the perimeter and one through the center.
Unlike the center, the perimeter holes do not go all the way through. With the differing-length sticks, the set was intended to be based on the Pythagorean progressive right triangle.
The sets were introduced to the public through displays in and around Chicago which included model Ferris wheels. Tinkertoys have been used to create complex machines, including Danny Hillis's 'tic-tac-toe-playing computer' (now in the collection of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California) and a robot at Cornell University in 1998.
The main manufacturing location was a 65,000-square-foot four-story plant at 2012 Ridge Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. Tinkertoys were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 1998.