Denys Fisher: Engineering Play

Denys Fisher’s lifelong passion for math and engineering led to his creating one of the world’s most popular toys, Spirograph.

Vital Stats

Born May 1918 in Leeds, England

Died September 2002 in Barrow-in-Furness, England

Early Career

Denys left his University studies to work at his family’s firm, Kingfisher Ltd., an industrial lubricant business. There, he developed new methods of manufacturing efficiencies.

He left the family business to open Denys Fisher Engineering in 1960, creating precision components for NATO amongst others.

While developing pattern drawing machines, an experiment with Meccano led Denys to the idea behind Spirograph, a mechanism capable of drawing complex geometrical patterns.

True Calling

With encouragement from his family, Fisher pursued the development and sales of Spirograph as a toy. He founded Denys Fisher Toy Group in 1965 to develop more of his ideas into marketable toys

The British television series Blue Peter featured the Spirograph in an episode, causing sales to skyrocket.

Denys Fisher Toy Group went on to create toys for franchises such as Doctor Who, Six Million Dollar Man, Stretch Armstrong, The New Avengers, and others. Fisher met American toy royalty, Joseph Steiner of Kenner Products, who agreed to further develop Spirograph and sell the toy globally.

Fisher sold his burgeoning toy company to to Hasbro in 1970. He worked with Hasbro through the 1980s continuing to develop toys and board games.

Great Expectations

 Spirograph was named Educational Toy of the Year in the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1966.

Iterations of Spirograph are still developed today.

Spirograph has sold over 100 million units in more than 85 countries.