"Without a doubt," Albert Carter and Abe Bookman would have needed psychic powers to have predicted the eventual success of their Syco-Seer fortune-telling device. Even then, they would have been "very doubtful" that it would one day take the form of an 8 ball. "It is certain," however, that the spherical soothsayer owes its trademark black-and-white flair -- and, perhaps, its success -- to Chicago's Brunswick Billiards and its promotional interest.
Inspired by Carter's mother, a self-proclaimed Cincinnati clairvoyant, the ball began as a tube containing a thick liquid and a die with predictions printed on it. It was then briefly marketed as a crystal sphere, which caught Brunswick's eye, after which it assumed its sartorial fondness for basic black. Following a few technical advancements, the Magic 8-Ball became what it remains today: A sphere surrounding an alcohol- and dye-filled tube, which contains a 20-sided die stamped with various answers [source: Walsh].
Was its popularity aided by the fortune-telling craze of the 1950s, which also fueled the fame of fortune cookies and diner fortune-telling machines?
You may rely on it.