A piece of many of today’s people’s childhood was a special and unusual toy known as ‘Slinky’. It was invented by a naval mechanical engineer, Richard T. James in Philadelphia. His original purpose was to stabilize instruments on ships using helical metal springs when products were shipped overseas. By accident, he knocked one of his springs off the shelf and watched it as it traveled from one level to another as it when down. He kept repeating the incident and always the same, a large spring fell onto its self, each end as it went down steps. It was his wife, Betty, who named it “Slinky” which means graceful.

James gave out to neighborhood kids the earliest models. Once out in the market and on shelves of Gimbels in Philadelphia in November 1945, it was very popular, with 400 slinkys sold in less than couple hours at the first store. It sold for $1 each and was 2 ½ inches tall with 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel.

The company formed was James Industries to produce Slinky as well as Slinky Dog and Suzie, the Slinky Worm.

NASA space has used the slinky in experiments for zero gravity and it is an exhibit in the Toy Hall of Fame.

From 1945 to 1995, it sold about 300 million Slinkys. Richard James died in 1974 and Betty ran it for years. In the 1970s, plastic made slinkys came out, many of these in different colors. By 1998, the company was sold to Poof Products, Inc.

By 2008, Slinkys sold between $4 and $5 each. Betty James died in November 2008.

The Slinky toy is still popular today. Do you recall having one?

Photo: Slinky going down steps.

Related Blogs:

Coaxing Memories

Family Stories

20th Century Toys

< Return To Blog I had a couple as a kid, and owned a few more over the years, as well as giving them out as gifts to my nieces & nephews. I've even purchased a couple of the all plastic ones for my pet rabbits!
doseas 25/03/21

That is a good idea for pets, including bunnies. Isn't it neat to know the backstory?
alice 25/03/21

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.