It turns out to be something of an evolutionary process - starting with Israeli Doron Gazitt who started out making balloon figures on the street for kids, a design school project helped by his father's work in agriculture - with plastic green house tubes. Trinidadian Carnival artist Peter Minshall, and eventually the the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 1998 Superbowl halftime show.
"But these first tube guys didn’t look much like the simple wiggling noodle man that’s since come to dominate America’s used car lots. They were sixty feet tall, with two legs that each had a dedicated fan and a separate articulated torso, arms, and head. These weren’t tube guys. These were full-on tube gods."All this comes from a fascinating history of inflatable tube guys at reForm, called
Biography of an Inflatable Tube GuyThe checkered past and lonely future of air puppets
Well worth the time with pictures showing the evolution from art to advertising distraction. Or as, according to the post, both Gazitt and Minshall agree,
"the single-tubed descendants of their wacky inflatable Olympic babies are an abomination. Gazit calls them “very ugly and very unattractive,” and Gulick, 'an impoverished version of the device.”
The writer does it all. There's nothing for me to add, except I saw this red one Monday in front of High Frequency, a locally owned shop, where I bought a used phone for my wife before hers is no longer served. I think I sidestepped the high prices at ATT for a reasonably good phone. We'll see. And it seems all the prices there are negotiable.