Working at Hasbro (1970-72)
Hasbro (Rhode Island) at the time was going in a whole new direction, instituting a new marketing department made up of young but experienced toy people. I thought that by being an educational psychologist, I might interest them in my services, and that I would benefit from working in a position where I could learn all about the toy business. I became a member of this very elite group at Hasbro headed by Stephen Hassenfeld. I received a priceless education at Hasbro, but toward the end of my two-year stint there I realized my interest was in inventing and not in business per se.
At Hasbro I invented the very first developmental line of 17 infant toys, called Your Baby. I also invented a line of wooden toys endorsed by Captain Kangaroo, called Captain Kangaroo Wooden Toys. I had to satisfy Bob “Captain Kangaroo” Keeshan, since these were the first toys he ever endorsed. I left Hasbro in 1972 because I knew I was an inventor and needed an environment where I could exclusively invent full time.
After Working at Hasbro
While at Hasbro, part of my job was to review products submitted by inventors and representatives of inventors. It was here that I met Ned Strongin, who had brought some toy products to be considered for manufacturing. In one of our conversations he suggested that if I ever moved back to New York I should drop by his office to say hello. He was a businessman who had dealings with inventors. We entered into a partnership in 1973 but it lasted less than one year. My understanding was that we would share financially in each other’s products. However I realized that we would be sharing in my inventions only and not in his products.
Being a prolific inventor, I invented many games, one of which was Connect Four. I convinced Dick Harris of Milton Bradley to license Connect Four. Soon after, Ned and I dissolved our partnership on friendly terms. He suggested I take all my inventions and pay him $5,000, which I borrowed from my family. He then asked me for an additional $5,000 for his share of the Connect Four contract. Unfortunately, I could not raise that amount needed to pay him. It is hard to believe, but back then as a young man (this was 40 years ago), I did not have that much money. He therefore remained a financial partner in Connect Four.
I continue to present my inventions to Hasbro every year as well as additional specific Connect Four products. I remain the single force (other than Hasbro) behind all that has been done with Connect Four all these years. I have licensed over 120 of my toy and game inventions during my career.