Since the begining of time, man has claimed to communicate with the spirit world, and in the process many variations of talking boards have been devised. Ouija(r) is a comparative newcomer to the race, only coming into existence inthe 1800's.
The first recorded Talking Board patent was registered in London, Europe on 23rd January, 1854, made by Adolphus Theodore Wagner. The patent was registered for a "PSYCHOGRAPH, or apparatus for indicating persons thoughts by the agent of nervous electricity".
It goes on to describe the device as:-
This apparatus consists of a combination of rods or peices of wood joined so as to permit of free action in all parts. From one of the legs of the instrument hangs a tracer; on one or more of the other extremities is a fixed disc, upon which the operator is to place his hand, and from this extremity or these extremities depends another tracer. The other parts of the apparatus consist of a glass slab or other non-conductor, and of an alphabet and set of figures or numerals. Upon a person possessing nervous electricity placing his hand upon one of the discs the instrument will immediately work, and the tracer will spell upon the alphabet what is passing in the operator's mind"
No mention of any spirits being involved.
The Ouija board was patented on 10th Feb 1891, in America, with Elijah Bond cited as the inventor, and Charles Kennard as one of the assignees. Charles Kennard and his associates formed the Kennard Novelty Company and began to produce and sell Ouija boards commercially. Charles ran the business for approximately 14 months, before he was maneuvered out of the company over some financial shenanigans. William Fuld, who worked for the company ended up taking over in 1892.
William, along with his brother and business partner Isaac, changed the name to the Ouija Novelty Company and continued selling large numbers of boards. When Isaac was fired over a falling out, the company name changed again, this time to the William Fuld Company.
William Fulds' name was on every genuine Ouija board made for over 50 years.
When Fuld died in 1927, his family retained control of the company until they sold out to Parker Brothers in 1966. It now comes under the umbrella of Hasbo, and they still have the rights to the Ouija name.
Some of the original Fuld Ouija boards, in good condition can now command respectable prices.