Elliot Handler was the inventor of Hot Wheels. The die-cast cars were first introduced into the toy market in 1968 and sold for $0.59 each. 16 cars were originally produced.
The idea for Hot Wheels came about when Handler saw his grandchildren playing with foreign die-cast cars of low quality. He wanted to make a better toy, so he took a hot-rod theme and combined it with speed, performance, power and vibrant colors.
In addition to inventing Hot Wheels, Handler was the co-founder of the Mattel toy company. The name came from a combination of his name and the name of his friend, Harold Matson. Handler's wife, Ruth, was responsible for the creation of the Barbie doll, which helped contribute to Mattel's success.
Elliot Handler died July 21, 2011, at he age of 95.