Accidental Inventions: Slinky


In 1943, Richard James invented one of the greatest toys ever. James, a naval engineer, was conducting an experiment with tension springs. During the experiment, one of the springs fell to the floor and began to “walk.” James took the spring home to his wife, Betty, and asked her if she thought it was something they could pursue. Betty had a vision for a toy and scoured the dictionary, looking for an appropriate name. She came across the word “slinky,” a Swedish word meaning stealthy, sleek and sinuous. Toy history was made.


The Slinky® debuted at Gimbel’s Department Store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1945. Both Betty and Richard were skeptical about how the Slinky® would sell. All their 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.


The Slinky® is still made in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania with the original equipment Richard James created. The Slinky® has changed little in over 60 years. A crimp was added to the ends of the wire to ensure safe play.

Source: Slinky