Created by toy designer Joseph M Burck, the design of Lite-Brite was elegantly simple: a grid of holes covering the front of what looked like a small television housing. A responsible adult installed a light bulb behind the screen, and the rest was up to the child’s imagination.
Using pegs of eight different colours – green, blue, red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and clear – children either created their own pictures or followed the colour-by-letter patterns provided.
When the work was done, lights went out, Lite-Brite went on, and a new masterpiece came to luminescent life.
The product was farmed out to Hasbro for mass production and released in 1967.
The versatile toy was limited only by the size of the screen, the range of colours available, and the depth of imagination. For the creatively challenged, Hasbro provided dozens of pre-patterned picture sheets (sold separately) to use as templates.
Over the course of Lite-Brite’s lengthy career, licenced characters from Scooby-Doo to Darth Vader, from My Little Pony to Mickey Mouse to Mr Potato Head have graced the screens of Lite-Brites across the country.
Planning ahead for absent-minded children and/or their slippery-fingered younger siblings, the good folks at Hasbro also offered refill packs of the small pegs, ensuring the future of glowing art for generations to come.
Lite-Brite also entered the digital age back in 2010 with an official iPad/iPhone app that allowed users to compose screen-bound works of art.