The Magic 8 Ball, manufactured by Mattel, is a toy used for fortune-telling. Invented in 1946 by Abe Bookman of the Alabe Toy Company, it is a hollow, plastic sphere resembling an oversized, black and white 8 billiard ball. Inside is a white, plastic, icosahedral die floating in a dark blue liquid. Each of the 20 faces of the die has an affirmative, negative, or non-committal statement printed on it in raised letters. There is a transparent window on the bottom of the 8-ball through which these messages can be read.
To use the ball, it must be held with the window initially facing down. After "asking the ball" a yes-or-no question, the user then turns the ball so that the window faces up, setting in motion the liquid and die inside. When the die floats to the top and one of its faces is pressed against the window, the raised letters displace the blue liquid to reveal the message as white letters on a blue background. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to shake or jostle the ball before turning it, as doing so can create air bubbles that may visually distort the answer.