My first job out of college was as a database computer programmer. This was the era of stacks of cards and reams of green and white lined computer paper. The job was fairly boring with lots of dead time between submitting a “job” and getting the results. To fill the time I started doodling ideas for small toys that moved.
Marji’s first job was as an art teacher in a rural middle/high school. Our apartment was filled with the stuff of creativity including, eventually a primitive wood shop in the second bedroom. On my way home from work I could detour to a large wood shop with a dumpster full of wonderful wood scraps. I started building some of my doodles and eventually decided to try selling them at a local craft show. To my delight and surprise they sold.
Marji loved her job. I didn’t feel the same about mine. I left after about 9 months so I could explore my toy ideas more fully. We found an apartment in half of an old farm house where the real attraction was the abandoned milk house out back. It would make a fine first workshop. Marji would continue her job and support us and I’d try my hand at full time creative problem solving with kinetic wooden toys as the goal.
The only piece we still have is a working example of a later version of Xylo.
This was the mid 1970’s and the toys sold fairly well via the regional craft show circuit, but I quickly realized that to make a living I was going to have to build far more of these kinetic toys than one person could manage. We didn’t have the money or inclination to hire people and set up a production line business. There didn't seem to be much of a future but I was enjoying myself and I figured there were plenty of years ahead to work a "real job".
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