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The History of the Slinky Toy

By M Dee Dubroff     Jul 26, 2007 in World
Who invented the slinky toy? How did the inventor ever come up with idea to make a toy out of a steel coil? Read on and discover the secret of one of the world’s most popular toys.
Naval engineer, Richard James, was tinkering with some tension springs back in 1945 without even a clue that just dropping a steel coil would lead to the creation of one of the world’s most enduring and beloved of toys, the Slinky. The spring slipped from his grasp (as springs are known to do sometimes) and it turned end over end repeatedly, bending as it did so. He showed it to his wife and together they found a toy and a name.
His wife, Betty, was the first to suggest a name for this new toy, which she found by browsing though a dictionary. She came across the perfect name; a Swedish work meaning “sleek and sinuous.” Slinky today is a part of the American lexicon.
The world met Slinky for the first time in 1946 at the Philadelphia branch of Gimble’s Department Store. James had manufactured 400 toys and they all sold out in less than two hours.
The Slinky has gone through only one change over the years: crimps have been added to the ends as a safety feature. It has also been used for other loftier purposes; namely in physical and occupational therapy and as antennae by soldiers in the Vietnam War. In 2001, the Slinky was named Pennsylvania’s official toy.
We salute you, Slinky. May you enjoy a long and sinuous immortality.
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