Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We once trusted our kids with radioactive kits - for science!

The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory was a toy kit sold for one brief year in 1950, by Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who also invented the Erector Set. It consisted of a Geiger-Muller counter, a cloud chamber, electroscope, spinthariscope, and actual uranium ore, along with a book about how to prospect for uranium.

According to an interview with Gilbert, the set was not only the real thing, but perfectly safe. It was discontinued, not because of safety concerns nor because of parental outcry, but because the unit was very expensive ($50 in 1950 dollars) and even at that they lost money on every unit sold. It was also just a little more advanced than the average science-fair project set.

The A.C. Gilbert company also sold other radioactive-themed toys, including this stand-alone impressive Geiger counter:

View other discontinued toys at the Banned Toys Museum.