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Publication numberUS3410011 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 12, 1968
Filing dateJul 22, 1966
Priority dateJul 22, 1966
Publication numberUS 3410011 A, US 3410011A, US-A-3410011, US3410011 A, US3410011A
InventorsRichard G Bowman
Original AssigneeRichard G. Bowman
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Device having elements displayable in different patterns
US 3410011 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Nov. 12, 1968 R. G. BOWMAN 3,410,011

BRENT PATTERNS DEVICE HAVING ELEMENTS DISPLAYABLE IN DIFF Filed July 22, 1966 INVENTOR. RICA/42D G. .B own/mm) flTToe EV United States Patent 3,410,011 DEVICE HAVING ELEMENTS DISPLAYABLE IN DIFFERENT PATTERNS Richard G. Bowman, 7652 Bella Vista St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90045 Filed July 22, 1966, Ser. No. 567,250 Claims. (Cl. 4068) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE receive and locate the shafts.

This invention relates to an improved unit including an array of display elements each of which may be actuated to different viewing positions in a manner enabling the overall unit to form any of numerous different display patterns. In one form of the invention, the device is especially adapted for use as a toy, and particularly may be employed as a mechanical tic-tac-toe unit. In other forms, the invention may be employed as a sign or the like which may be utilized to write on the face of the sign any desired information.

A major object of the invention is to provide a device of the discussed type which is structurally very simple and yet rugged, and in which the individual display elements are easily changed from one setting to another. Desirably, each of the display elements can be changed to any of its desired settings entirely independently of any actuation of the other elements, to thus maximize the number of possible patterns which may be produced. Also, it is preferred that the individual elements each be designed for actuation between three different appearance conditions, in which conditions the elements may for example be of different colors. Further, there may be provided holding means for releasably retaining each element in any of its possible settings.

Structurally, the individual elements are mounted to turn about predetermined axes, preferably by mounting the elements rotatably on a series of parallel shafts. Each of the elements is then provided with a series of display faces, preferably three faces, positioned for exposure in different rotary positions of the elements. The use of three faces enables attainment of a multicolored arrangement, and increases the number of possible patterns which may be achieved, and in addition is necessary when the device is to be employed as a tic-tac-toe unit. For such tic-tac-toe use, the elements are arranged in three rows and three columns, so that actuation of the different elements corresponds to choice of one of the nine positions in a conventional tic-tac-toe game, but with the entire game being played mechanically and without the necessity for a pencil or paper.

Each of the display elements may be shaped to have a series of corners at the junctures of its successive display faces. Desirably, these corners are utilized for retaining the elements in their different set positions, and for this purpose are engageable with coacting holding means which may be carried by the body of the device to function as a detenting arrangement. In one form of the invention, the coacting holding means consist merely of a ice sheet or mass of resiliently deformable material, typically a foam material, which is located behind the display elements and engages the corners of those elements in detenting relation. In another form of the invention, a backing plate of more rigid plastic or the like may be provided, and may have detent tabs for engagement with the display elements.

Disposed across the body of the device at a location behind the display elements there may be provided a wall having a forwardly turned edge which functions to hold the shafts of the display elements in position within the body. Preferably, this wall has two such edges at opposite sides thereof engaging both of the ends of the shafts in locating relation. This wall may also serve as the backing element for the previously mentioned resilient foam.

The above and other features and objects of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of the typical embodiments illustrated in the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a tic-tac-toe toy constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the toy of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 3 and 4 are vertical sections taken on lines 33 and 4-4 respectively of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of a variational form of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary enlarged vertical section taken on line66 of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary vertical section taken on line 77 of FIG. 6.

Referring first to FIG. 1, I have illustrated at 10 a tictac-toe device having a body or housing 11 which movably carries nine identical display elements 12. Body 11 may typically be extruded from an appropriate essentially rigid resinous plastic material, such as a suitable medium impact styrene. This body 11 is square in horizontal section (see FIG. 2), having an externally square horizontally extending top wall 13 from which there extend downwardly four identical vertical side walls 14, each of which is perpendicular to the two adjacent walls 14 and to top wall 13. The top wall 13 contains a square opening 15 which is centered with respect to the body, so that wall 13 forms in effect a frame within which the nine display elements 12 may be seen.

Internally, body 11 carries and forms two inner support walls or partitions 16 which are integral with and project downwardly from top wall 13, and which extend parallel to and in spaced relation to a pair of the previously mentioned walls 14. More specifically, partitions 16 may extend along and project downwardly-from two of the opposite sides 17 of opening 15 in top wall 13. At their opposite ends, partitions 16 may project beyond opening 15, as indicated at 18 in FIG. 2 (to connect integrally to the other two walls 14 of the body (at 19 in FIG. 4).

As seen in FIG. 4, each of the partitions 16 contains three notches 20 extending upwardly from the lower horizontal edge 21 of the partition, and tapering to a reduced dimension upper end 22 which is of semicircular outline. Three externally cylindrical shafts 23 are mounted within body 11, with each of these shafts having its opposite ends received and located within two of the reduced portions 22 of notches 20 in the two partitions 16. Shafts 23 extend along axes 24 which are parallel to one another, and perpendicular to the partitions 16 and to the two outer walls 14 which are parallel to the partitions.

Disposed across the otherwise open backside of body or housing 11, there is provided a back wall 25, which may be essentially planar and disposed parallel to front wall 13 of the body, and which may occupy and close the entire square space between the four walls 14 of the body. This wall 25 may typically be formed of cardboard, such as an appropriate corrugated cardboard as shown consisting of two parallel paper sheets 124 secured to an intermediate corrugated sheet 224, or may be formed of a plastic material or other suitable substance. Two opposite edges of back wall 25 may be turned forwardly to form a pair of forwardly projecting parallel flanges 26, which may be received within the side spaces formed between partitions 16 and the adjacent side "walls 14 of the body, and which may be suitably secured to the body as by the provision of a cement or other adhesive at 27 between the outer surfaces of flanges 26 and the inner surfaces of the adjacent walls 14. The upper edges 28 of flanges 26 engage upwardly against the opposite end portions of shafts 23, in a manner securely retaining the shafts against downward movement from their previously discussed positions of confinement within portions 22 of notches 20, so that the shafts are effectively located in their illustrated positions.

Each of the shafts 23 mounts three of the display elements 12 for turning movement about the axis of the shaft between the three possible settings of the display element. As seen best in FIG. 4, the elements 12 are triangular as viewed in cross section transversely of axes 24, so that each element 12 has three display faces 29, 30 and 31, each occupying one-third of the periphery of the element circularly about the corresponding axis 24 (that is, with each of the faces 29, 30 and 31 extending through 120 circular degrees about that axis 24). Faces 29, 30 and 31 are desirably planar, and as viewed in FIG. 2 are square in outline. The three faces 29, 30 and 31 may be formed by three triangularly arranged planar side walls 32 of the element, which may be molded from an appropriate resinous plastic material. At one end of each element 12, the element may have an end wall 33 (FIG. 3), which extends radially inwardly and is integrally connected to a tubular axially extending bearing portion 34 of the element which is dimensioned to be received about and fit closely but rotatably on the corresponding shaft 23. The end 35 of bearing portion 34 of element 12 may project slightly beyond the extremities of walls 32 and faces 29, 30 and 31 (which extremities lies within a plane such as that shown at 36 in FIG. 3), to form a short projection for assisting in maintaining the main bodies of the elements slightly spaced axially apart. Similarly, a short projection 37 may be formed integrally on wall 33 and project axially therefrom, to engage an adjacent one of the elements 12 or one of the partitions 16.

The three faces 29, 30 and 31 of each of the display elements 12 are so formed as to have different appearance characteristics; and for this purpose it is preferred that each of these faces be of a different color. For instance, face 29 may be red, face 30 may be white, and face 31 may be black. Further, it is desirable that this same color scheme or other appearance arrangement be carried out through all of the different display elements 12, so that all of the elements 12 may for example have a first set of white faces, a second set of black faces, and a third set of red faces. Any of these various faces may be turned to a position in which it faces upwardly for viewing, and in which it is flush with and lies in the same plane as the top surface of top wall 13 of body 11.

For retaining each of the elements 12 in any one of the three positions to which it may be set, there is provided at the upper side of back wall 25 of the device a sheet or layer of resiliently deformable elastometic material 38, which may be appropriately secured to wall 25 by cement, glue, or the like at 39, and which preferably takes the form of a planar layer or sheet or resinous plastic foam material, such as polyurethane foam or the like. This foam may normally tend to return to a condition in which its upper planar surface 40 must be deformed downwardly in order to enable one of the three axially extending corners 41 of an element 12 to swing past a position of engagement with surface 40. Thus, each element 12 may be retained or locked in a viewing position by engagement of one of the corners 41 of the element with foam material 38 in a position in which the corner depresses the foam downwardly (FIG. 4) to form a groove in the foam acting to resiliently lock the element in the said position. However, the element may subsequently be easily turned from that position to a next successive setting and be similarly retained in that position.

To describe the use of the device of FIGS. 1 through 4 as a tic-tac-toe unit, assume first of all that all of the elements 12 are turned to positions in which they all have the same one of their faces 29, 30 or 31 exposed for viewing. For example, these elements may all be turned to positions in which their white faces are exposed. Next, one player manually turns one of the elements 12 to a position in which a second of its faces is exposed (for example its red face), following which the other player turns another element to a position in which its third face (typically black) is exposed, etc., until one of the players has won the game by exposing three aligned faces of his color. The elements are turned by pressing downwardly on the exposed faces, and then manipulating the elements until it reaches the desired new setting, with its downwardly projecting corner 41 contacting the foam 38 in holding relation.

FIGS. 5 through 7 show a variational form of the invention having a body 11a and display elements 12a which may be considered the same as parts 11 and 12 of the first form of the invention, except for the provision in FIGS. 5 to 7 of a greatly increased number of the display elements. That is, there may be provided in FIG. 5 a large number of horizontal rows of the display elements 12a (these rows typically being designated by the letters A, B, C, D, etc. on wall 13a), and there may similarly be provided a large number of vertical columns of the elements designated 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., so that the elements may be utilized to form various different display patterns, such as words, numbers, letters, and the like. In this way, the device 10a of FIG. 5 may be employed as a sign, as a toy for children to utilize in printing words and the like, or for any other allied purpose. The individual elements 12a may have the same equilateral triangular cross sectional configuration discussed in connection with FIGS. 1 to 4, and may be mounted by shafts 23a corresponding to shafts 23 of FIGS. 1 to 4. However, I have typically illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 a somewhat different form of detenting mechanism for holding the elements 12a in their different set positions, with this mechanism consisting of a square sheet of backing material 25a, typically an appropriate resinous plastic material, which is shaped to form a number of tabs a projecting angularly upwardly toward elements 12a, and having notches 225a within which corners 41a of elements 12a are receivable in detenting relation (see FIG. 7). A separate one of the tabs 125a is provided for each of the elements 12a. These tabs 125a are formed of a resiliently deformable material, which is deflected downwardly as one of the corners 41a moves into a notch 225a, and which then resiliently returns upwardly to the FIG. 7 locked position to retain the element 12a in a proper viewing position until the element is further manually actuated to shift it to another position.

A further feature of both forms of the invention resides in the fact that, in any of the different viewing positions of each of the elements 12a, the exposed display face (29, 30 or 31 of FIG. 4) is aligned with and lies in the same plane as the upper surface of top wall 13 of the body (or the corresponding surface in FIG. 5). By virtue of this relationship, it is possible to invert the entire unit on a table, and allow all of the exposed faces of the various elements 12 or 12a, as well as the exposed surface of top wall 13 or its equivalent, to contact the top of the table, to in this way automatically and very easily set all of the various elements to positions in which their exposed faces are exactly parallel to top wall 13.

Another form of the innvention, which will be understood without further illustration, may be the same as that of FIGS. 5 to 7 except that one of the sets of faces of elements 12a form together a predetermined puzzle picture, different portions of which are formed on the different elements respectively. Thus, the device may be utilized as a mechanical jig saw puzzle, in which the complete picture may be formed only by turning all of the elements to predetermined complementary settings. If desired, three such puzzle pictures may be formed on the three sets of faces.

I claim:

1. A display unit comprising a body structure, an array of display elements positioned for viewing from a predetermined side thereof and arranged in a series of rows extending in a first direction and a series of columns extending in a second direction, a series of shafts each mounting a plurality of said elements to the body structure to turn about the shafts between different display positions, said body structur having two opposite side walls and two shaft locating walls spaced inwardly there from and containing notches within which said shafts are received, and a wall disposed across said body structure behind said elements and having two opposite side edges turned forwardly and received between said side walls and said shaft locating walls and engageable with said shafts therebetween to hold the shafts in said'notches and against rearward movement relative to said body structure.

2. A display unit as recited in claim 1, including a sheet of resilient foam material carried at the forward side of said wall which is behind the elements, said elements having corners engaging said foam in holding relation to retain the elements in different viewing positions.

3. A display unit as recited in claim 1, in which said notches taper to a reduced width as they advance forwardly.

4. A display unit as recited in claim 1, in which said notches, as they advance forwardly, first taper progessive- 1y to a width approximately equaling the diameter of said shafts, and then form forward portions closely receiving and confining said shafts.

5. A display unit comprising a body structure, an array of display elements positioned for viewing from a predetermined side thereof and arranged in a series of rows extending in a first direction and a series of columns extending in a second direction, and a series of shafts each mounting a plurality of said elements to the body structure to turn about the shafts between different display positions, said body structure including a forward body section and a rear body section connected thereto, said forward body section having walls turned rearwardly and engaging a forward side of said shafts but not the opposite rear side thereof, and said rear section having walls turned forwardly and engaging the rear side of said shafts but not their forward sides, whereby said body sections together confine and locate the shafts relative to the body structure.

6. A display unit as recited in claim 5, in which some of said walls contain notches receiving said shafts and within which the shafts are retained by others of the walls.

7. A display unit comprising a body structure, an array of display elements positioned for viewing from a predetermined side thereof and arranged in a series of rows extending in a first direction and a series of columns extending in a second direction, and a series of shafts each mounting a plurality of said elements to the body structure to turn about the shafts between different display positions, each of said display elements having a radially inner hub portion disposed rotatably about one of said shafts to mount the element thereon, each display element having an essentially axially extending peripheral portion extending essentially about said hub portion and forming a plurality of different display faces visible selectively in said different display positions respectively of the display element, each display element having a connector portion extending generally radially between and interconnecting said hub portion and said peripheral portion, each element containing a recess extending essentially axially thereinto from an end thereof and extending about said axis radially between opposed portions of said hub portion and said peripheral portion, said hub portions of successive display elements on a particular shaft being engageable axially against one another in a relation limiting movement of said display elements axially together and that positions maintaining said peripheral portions of successive display elements slightly out of contact.

8. A display unit as recited in claim 7, in which said hub portions of the individual display elements project axially beyond said peripheral portions thereof at at least one end of the individual elements.

9. A display unit as recited in claim 7, in which said hub portions of the individual displayelements project axially beyond said peripheral portions thereof at both ends of the individual elements.

10. A display unit as recited in claim 7, in which said body structure has walls at the ends of said shafts engageable by said hub portions of said elements in a relation maintaining said peripheral portions of the elements out of contact with said walls.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,041,178 10/1912 Schumacher 4068 1,752,251 3/1930 Giroux 4028 2,628,838 2/1953 Smalley 4028 XR EUGENE R. CAPOZIO, Primary Examiner. W. H. GRIEB, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
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US1041178 *Jan 26, 1912Oct 15, 1912Lloyd E SchumacherIndex.
US1752251 *Jul 13, 1929Mar 25, 1930Giroux Charles AChangeable sign
US2628838 *Jan 29, 1947Feb 17, 1953Daniel F SmalleyRotary block game apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3599977 *Mar 17, 1969Aug 17, 1971Marvin Glass & AssociatesRotary block tic-tac-toe board and projectiles
US3706148 *Jan 21, 1971Dec 19, 1972Johnston Shaun CDisplay assembly
US3721022 *Jan 15, 1971Mar 20, 1973J MercorelliDesign device
US3949392 *Oct 29, 1974Apr 6, 1976Caritato LimitedMulti-element display apparatus for displaying different patterns or information
US4034523 *Oct 2, 1975Jul 12, 1977Saunders Reginald EGraffiti protection
US4134592 *Dec 13, 1976Jan 16, 1979Pullman Burke ColeApparatus for playing games
US4136883 *Dec 5, 1977Jan 30, 1979Klees Garry WGame board apparatus
US4456261 *Oct 2, 1981Jun 26, 1984Daitzman Reid JMethod of playing a board game
US4597209 *Aug 26, 1983Jul 1, 1986Hukill Marlin EChangeable display device
US4783081 *Mar 2, 1987Nov 8, 1988Eckhardt Albert HPlaying or games board on which several games can be played
US4890845 *Dec 15, 1988Jan 2, 1990Sidney GatewoodGame apparatus with rotating elements
US6345822 *Feb 11, 2000Feb 12, 2002Mattel Europa B.V.Game apparatus
US20110095479 *Oct 18, 2010Apr 28, 2011Attwood Bruce PBoard game
DE2736866A1 *Aug 16, 1977Mar 1, 1979Prisma Neon AbVorrichtung an einer bildeinrichtung
DE8807061U1 *May 30, 1988Nov 17, 1988Lietz, Michael, 6000 Frankfurt, DeTitle not available
DE10020223A1 *Apr 25, 2000Mar 1, 2001Wolfgang ErbBoard game has a playing board with substitute multi-colored playing pieces recessed into the board to be rotated to show the state of play for each
EP1127594A2 *Feb 21, 2001Aug 29, 2001play on Annegret GallusPuzzle game in the form of a mechanical device
U.S. Classification40/504, 273/271, 273/281, 434/402
International ClassificationA63F3/02, G09F9/37
Cooperative ClassificationA63F3/00261, A63F2003/00264, G09F9/37
European ClassificationA63F3/00B5, G09F9/37