Heff, I'm not sure if this was created or sold prior to the 80's, but to me, it is all 1980's. The Etch-a-Sketch was kind of like the first "graphic-design" software ... or not. Well, it certainly wasn't for me. I wasn't very creative when it came to the Etch-a-Sketch. However, it didn't prevent me from playing with the Etch-A-Sketch for hours and hours at a time.
Sure, all I ever did was make simple looking houses for the most part, or just weird, ergonomically incorrect scribbles, but it was a creative release for my growing mind.
The cool part is that this toy is still popular to this day. Mr. A-Sketch made a killing on this.