Puzzle inventor: Frank Armbruster

Frank Armbruster (1929-2013) played with puzzles for over 60 years. He started designing games as teaching tools around 1965. The first version of his Instant Insanity puzzle, licensed to Parker Brothers, sold over 12 million copies in 1966-67.

Frank's career as an educational consultant began in 1960. In 1963 he met Laymen Allen of Yale University and became inspired by Allen's idea to teach using game concepts. While working on several different teaching machine designs, Frank saw a parallel between what a teaching machine does and what a game does. If the rules of the game are structured from the rules of the subject matter, the game will teach. Each has a set of structured rules, a goal, and an opportunity for strategies. And each provides stimulus-response situations in a step-by-step sequence.

Frank had also been reading about permutations and combinations in a book by the mathematician Percy MacMahon (creator of the Multimatch I and Multimatch III sets made by Kadon) and realized that the Instant Insanity puzzle was also a problem in combinatorics.

Among the over 60 toys, games and gadgets Frank came up with are a magnetic chess set, a discovery-learning toy of rattling number tiles called Noisy Numbers, an interlocking construction toy called Fiddle Disks, and a toothbrush timer. His company, Colorado Bootstrap, Inc., continued to develop and market an extensive product line until 2013.

Frank's career as an engineer spanned four decades and several industries, including several patents in instrumentations. His educational credentials covered educational psychology (doctoral), computer science, instructional technology (Master's degree) and physics. His other accomplishments include being a magician, toastmaster, pilot, and corporate president. Fifteen years he spent at Lockheed as instructor and developing training methods.

Even in semi-retirement, Frank continued to design and produce educational toys, games and puzzles. And he was much in demand during the holiday season as a very authentic Santa Claus.

In 2012 he placed his entire remaining unfinished inventory of Instant Insanity into Kadon's hands. We feel honored to be their exclusive custodians and sellers.

Frank passed away on March 13, 2013, and is buried in Grantsville, Utah. We shall miss him. He was one of a kind.

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