Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Anastasia L. Pratt
In 1912, Dr. Alfred Carlton Gilbert developed the Erector Set. A miniaturized version of the girder system used to build railroads, the toy envisioned a new version of childhood and endeavored to teach boys the principles of engineering. Hugely successful, the Erector Set became a mainstay of American toys. Gilbert developed the Erector Set in the same era that saw the invention of Meccano and Tinkertoys, after watching construction workers erect the electrical system of a railroad with steel girders and rivets. Convinced that a childhood version of that system would allow boys to learn more about engineering, Gilbert developed a toy that he first called the Mysto Erector Structural Steel Builder, which included actual metal tools—the girders and rivets of the construction trade—in smaller sizes. As Erector Sets developed, those tools came to include a variety of parts: metal beams with regular holes, nuts, screws, bolts, pulleys, flanges, motors, ...