In 1991, two Seattle musicians designed and patented the first novelty eyeglasses with lenses fitted inside the circles of the two numeral “9”s. It was a brilliant idea and one that lasted because every year since then has had two adjacent 9s or two adjacent 0s in it. That is, until 2010, which still almost works. But this upcoming year, 2011, begins a drought of double circles that will last until 2016.

But it turns out, the two inventors, Richard Sciafani and Peter Cicero, exited the market in 2008 (Seattle Times Dec 2008) because low-priced knock-offs (from a country that must not be named) have made the business unprofitable. Their company Brainstorm Novelties still exists though.


Richard Sciafani (left) and Peter Cicero. Photo from Seattle Times

The New Year eyewear fashion fad received attention from the Wall St. J. Dec 2010, complete with examples of how some designers have solved the 2011 single circle problem.

Oh well, hope you have your party favors, hats, firecrackers, and plastic champagne glasses ready. Happy New Year!