Creator of the board game Operation visits the Suncoast
SARASOTA - We’ve all played the game Operation at least once in our lives, but do we really know anything about the person who created the famous board game.
"People ask me how did I come up with the idea," said John Spinello. "When I was a youngster I crawled under my mom’s TV set. I had a safety pin and I put it in the light socket and zap!”
Spinello is the man behind the game. He came up with the idea in the 1960’s after he wanted to recreate the felling of getting zapped as a kid. He took his prototype made of an overcharged battery and a buzzard to Marvin Glass one of the best known toy developers in the U.S.
"So he went from here to here and – burrp! It almost melted the probe and he threw the thing up in the air and he says I love it, I love it,” said Spinello.
The game has sold more than 45 million copies across a 50 year span, but Spinello was virtually left with nothing to show off for his great invention. "He offered me $500 and the premise of a job when I graduated, so I got the $500 in two payments, I had to beg for it, I never got the job,” he said.
Spinello had sold the rights to the game and was left in the dust by Glass. It wasn’t until Tim Walsh a local filmmaker embarked on a quest to find the inventors of some of the most popular toys of our childhoods.
“I wrote a book called Timeless Toys," said Walsh. "I wanted to find out who invented some of the most classic toys and Operation was one I loved as a kid that I wanted to make sure was in the book.”
Walsh then turned his book into a short documentary film, Operation the Power of Play, sharing Spinello’s story with the world. The two have toured the U.S. to show Spinello the impact his game has had on kids who grew up to become doctors.
“This is almost impossible but it is true that doctors have become doctors and surgeons played the game when they were kids," said Spinello. "Seeing the film on the screen it’s absolutely mind boggling. It was exciting.”
The Central West Coast Chapter of Florida Public Relation Association presented the film Operation: The Power of Play at the the Bazaar on Apricot and Lime Friday night. To rent or buy the film visit theplaymakers.com