Head-spinning history of the propeller beanie

From sci-fi to hippies to Shaq to Noogle, propeller beanies have had a colorful life.

propeller beanies

Nothing quite says geek (or propeller-head), like a good old propeller beanie. Though twirly beanies can also say chic. Here’s a short spin through the colorful history of propeller beanies.

RELATED: Whirling through the world of propeller beanies

propeller beanies

Science fiction writer Ray Faraday Nelson is said to have created the propeller beanie in 1947 at a small science fiction convention in Cadillac, Mich., and homemade versions began popping up among the sci-fi crowd, fueled in part by cartoons Nelson crafted that included propeller beanie-wearing characters.

propeller beanies

Shortly after, this drawing by of “Boy with a Propeller Beanie” by Guy Pène du Bois appeared.

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Ads for propeller beanies showed up in magazines like Billboard back in the 1940s (beanie tip to TodayinSci.com)

propeller beanies

The Beany & Cecil cartoon from animator Bob Clampett followed in the 1950s and 1960s from his earlier black and white puppet show in the late 1940s, and stars a dinosaur/sea serpent and his friend Beany, who wears a propeller beanie that allows him to fly.

propeller beanies

Naturally, ads for beanie copters emerged.

propeller beanies

One of prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson’s first patents, issued in 1953, was for a propeller beanie operated by blowing through a tube.

propeller beanies

Oakland A’s Banjo Man discusses his day job making propeller beanie caps. He got into the game in the 1970s after making a beanie as a gift for political activist/hippie Wavy Gravy.

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In 1996, MIT mischief makers converted the Great Dome on campus into a working propeller beanie

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In 1995, basketball buds Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon wear propeller beanies while cycling on a tandem bike while schilling for Taco Bell.

propeller beanies

This cover of Fortune Magazine from 1997 featured Microsoft brainiac Nathan Myhrvold on the cover in a beanie.

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Tech vendors, such as Sherpa Software, have used propeller beanies as giveaways over the years.

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Propeller beanies have even gotten mixed up in politics. Here, Alaska Congressman Don Young in 2011 makes a statement about the Obama Administration, wearing a beanie with a pin that says: “Obama’s Energy Plan.”

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Battery-powered motorized propeller beanie caps form a wireless mesh network. CapNet was deployed during the 2013 Design West Conference in San Jose with more than 200 caps on the network.

propeller beanies

The 2013 movie, “The Internship,” starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, includes a scene with Google newbies wearing “Noogle” propeller lids.

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Vlogbrother John sports a propeller beanie from FAO Schwartz during a video in which he dispenses love advice to Nerdfighters.

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Propeller beanies have gone really soft in the homemade world of Etsy crafts.