The Magic 8 Ball is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice, manufactured by Mattel. The device was invented in 1946 by Abe Bookman, who marketed and sold the device with Albert Carter of the Alabe Crafts Company (a company named for the first letters in Carter's and Bookman's first names). Carter came up with the concept of a fortune telling device but it was Bookman who invented and designed the Magic 8 Ball.
The Magic 8 Ball is a hollow plastic sphere resembling an oversized, black and white 8-ball. Inside is a cylindrical reservoir containing a white, plastic, icosahedral die floating in alcohol with dissolved dark blue dye. The die is hollow, with openings in each face, allowing the die to fill with fluid, giving the plastic die minimal buoyancy. Each of the 20 faces of the die has an affirmative, negative, or non-committal statement printed on it in raised letters. There is a transparent window on the bottom of the Magic 8 Ball through which these messages can be read.
To use the ball, it must be held with the window initially facing down. After "asking the ball" a yes-or-no question, the user then turns the ball so that the window faces up, setting in motion the liquid and die inside. When the die floats to the top and one of its faces is pressed against the window, the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message as white letters on a blue background. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary (or recommended) to shake or jostle the ball before turning it, as doing so can create air bubbles that may visually distort the answer.
The 20 standard answers on a Magic 8-Ball are:
10 of the possible answers are affirmative (●), 5 are negative (●), and 5 are non-committal (●). Using the Coupon collector's problem in probability theory, it can be shown that it takes, on average, 72 questions of the Magic Eight Ball for all 20 of its answers to appear at least once.
The Magic 8 Ball was predicted in the Three Stooges short, You Nazty Spy, five years before the toy was actually created.
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