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Yo-Yo Inventer Donald Duncan Born: June 8, 1893

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Entrepreneur Donald Franklin Duncan was born in Rome, Ohio, on June 8, 1893, but spent his childhood in Huntington.

Duncan Yo-yos
Credit e-WV / WV Humanitites Council
/
WV Humanitites Council
While in San Francisco in the late 1920s, Duncan saw a common Filipino toy known as a yo-yo, which means “come-come” in the Tagalog language.

He left Huntington in his mid-teens and became a successful salesman for the Brock Candy Company in Chicago during World War I. In 1920, he introduced Good Humor ice cream to the world.

While in San Francisco in the late 1920s, Duncan saw a common Filipino toy known as a yo-yo, which means “come-come” in the Tagalog language. He bought out the toy’s manufacturer, modified the top, substituted a slip-string of Egyptian fiber, and hired Filipino natives to demonstrate the toy across the country. Duncan’s yo-yo became wildly popular. In 1962, its peak sales year, the Duncan Yo-Yo Company sold 18 million yo-yos and spinning tops. He owned the trademark on the word yo-yo from 1930 to 1965, when a federal appeals court ruled that the word was part of the common language.

With his profits, he founded the Duncan Parking Meter Corporation, which at one point made 80 percent of all meters sold in the world.

Donald Duncan died in Los Angeles in 1971 at age 77.

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