facts about the invention
Betty and Richard
James in 1945.
AT A GLANCE:
The Slinky® debuted at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania in 1945. Richard James, the inventor, was skeptical about
how the Slinky® would sell. All his doubts were put to rest when all 400
Slinkys® for sale were purchased in 90 minutes. Since then, over three
hundred million Slinkys® have been sold worldwide.
DID YOU KNOW?
||Not only is
the Slinky an excellent toy, its action also demonstrates a variety
of physical forces and principles. The Slinky, like all objects,
tends to resist change in its motion.
(US) issued January 28, 1947
||Richard James and Betty
||First to patent.
||Betty-February 13, 1918
in Altoona, Pennsylvania
1943 Richard noticed the interesting flip-flops of a torsion spring
bouncing across the floor
1045 Richard and Betty begin production of the Slinky toy on a machine
that Richard invented
1956 The company changes its name from James Spring & Wire Company to
James Industries, Inc.
1960 Richard moves to Bolivia leaving Betty to run the business and
raise six children
1998 Slinky Brand sold to Poof Toys
slinky, slinky toy, betty james, richard james, poof toys, invention, history,
inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating
In 1943. during World War II, an
engineer in the United States Navy was on a new ship's run. As he worked, a torsion spring
suddenly fell to the floor. the spring flip-flopped as the ingenious man watched. The
naval engineer's name was Richard James, and when he returned home, he remembered the
spring and the interesting way it flip-flopped. James and his wife Betty perfected a long
steel ribbon tightly coiled into a spiral.
They began production in 1945. Richard and Betty
borrowed $500.00. They started a company. They called it James Spring &
Wire Company. Richard made a machine. He designed it himself. When it
was finished, it made Slinkys. They were made of 80 ft of wire. The wire
came from Sweden. In 1956 the company changed its name. It became James
From that spring's accidental fall came a toy Americans have enjoyed for
over fifty years, the Slinky. The non-electrical, no-battery-required,
non-video toy has fascinated three generations of children and adults
alike. According to one estimate more than 300 million Slinkys have been
sold and the only change in the original design has been to crimp the
ends as a safety measure.
TO LEARN MORE
Toy and Game
History from The Great
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Paperback - 48 pages (1994) / Doubleday
Recounting the fascinating stories behind the accidental inventions of forty familiar
objects and products.
Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition (September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items,
expressions and customs.
Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson, Laurie Keller / Hardcover - 128 pages (2000) / Henry Holt &
The quirky tales behind more than two dozen novelties, gadgets and games, from seesaws to
Silly Putty and toy soldiers to Trivial Pursuit.
ON THE SCREEN:
The History of Toys and Games
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 100 Minutes / The History Channel / Less than
As long as there have been children, there have been toys. And from
wooden tops to virtual reality, America has always taken its
playthings pretty seriously. Hear the fascinating stories of the
young-at-heart inventors who created some of the most famous games
and toys of all time, and meet the people who play for a living,
trying to anticipate what kids will fall for next holiday season..
DVD / Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Slinky /
ASIN: B000059XUT /
Walt Disney Home Video
Just a picture of these bright toys on the cover of Toy Story looks
intriguing, reawakening the kid in us.
ON THE WEB:
Official Slinky Web site from the new (1998) owners of Slinky brand, Poof Toys.
Betty James helped her husband to develop and market the Slinky. She
continued in this work on her own, and established a successful business
with a quality product.
The physical properties of the slinky determine how quickly it
moves under the influence of gravity. Although its movement may look simple, from a
scientific point of view the motion is quite complex.
Everything Slinky. Includes physics experiments, history, slinky lings page and more.
NASA SCIence Files
Slinky Science, in this activity, you will investigate how an energy
WORDS OF WISDOM:
The Slinky Song.
“What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs,
And makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing,
Everyone knows it’s Slinky.
It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky,
For fun it’s a wonderful toy,
It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky,
It’s fun for a girl and a boy.”
This catchy jingle helped people remember the Slinky.
DID YOU KNOW?:
- The Slinky® is still made in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania with
the original equipment Richard James created.
- Carried by communications soldiers in Vietnam, Slinky was
tossed over a high tree branch as a makeshift radio antenna.
- Slinky was incorporated into a spring device used to pick
pecans from trees.
- Slinky has gone aloft in the space shuttle to test the
effects of zero gravity on the physical laws that govern the mechanics of springs. In
space, Slinky behaves like neither a spring nor a toy but as a continuously propagating
- The Slinky® (under House Bill No.1893
- Session 2001, of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania) has been
named the Official State Toy of Pennsylvania as of November 4, 2001.
- The Discovery and History Channels
selected Slinky as one of the top 10 toys of the 20th Century.
- The U.S. Postal Service honored Slinky
on a 1999 commemorative stamp.
- Slinky participated on a NASA space
- Over 300 million Slinkys have been
Slinky is a registered
trademark of Poof Products
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised July 20, 2005.
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