Fact File about the Invention of the Slinky: Invention: Slinky *** Date of Invention: 1943 *** Name of Inventor: Richard T. James *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1914 - 1974 *** Nationality of Inventor: American *** Historical Period: WW2 (1939 - 1945) *** Category: Toys and Games *** Country of Origin: America *** Facts about the Inventor, Richard T. James, and the invention of the Slinky ***
Fact 1: Who invented the Slinky? The Slinky was invented by Richard T.
James in 1943 during the WW2 (1939 - 1945) era of inventions.
Fact 2: Who invented the Slinky? Prior to the invention of the Slinky in 1943, there was
few new toys that had been invented. During WW2 (1939 - 1945) the number of toys
available were limited due to the need of materials for the war effort.
Fact 3: Who invented the Slinky? WW2 ended on September 2, 1945 and the
Slinky was first demonstrated at Gimbels department store in Philadelphia two
months later in November 1945.
Fact 4: Who invented the Slinky? The inventor of the Slinky, Richard T. James, was born on January 1, 1914 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States and died on July 13, 1974.
His wife's name was Betty James and together they had six children.
Fact 5: Who invented the Slinky? The early years of Richard James were spent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States where he was raised by his family. Richard James was educated at Pennsylvania State University
Fact 6: Who invented the Slinky? Richard James was educated a Quaker
boarding school and went on to Pennsylvania State University where, in 1939, he
graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, just as WW2 had started in
Europe (The United States entered WW2 on December 7, 1941 following the Japanese
attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.)
Fact 7: Who invented the Slinky? Following his education his first job was as a
naval mechanical engineer stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in
Fact 8: Who invented the Slinky? In 1943 Richard James was working on a
project to develop springs that would be able stabilize sensitive instruments
aboard ships in rough seas.
Fact 9: Who invented the Slinky? The invention of the Slinky was a total
accident. Richard James accidentally knocked one of the torsion springs he
had been working on from a shelf.
Fact 10: Who invented the Slinky? The torsion spring "stepped" in a
series of arcs to a pile of books, then on to the top of a table and finally
landed on the floor, where the spring re-coiled itself and stood upright.
(Torsion springs are made from stiff pieces of metal and work like the elastic
in a catapult.)
Fact 11: Who invented the Slinky? Watching the spring move Richard James
had his 'Eureka' moment that led to the invention of the Slinky. He told his
wife Betty about the remarkable accident, explained the effect and added that he
thought he could make the torsion spring "walk".
Fact 12: Who invented the Slinky? Betty James was intrigued by her
husband's idea who was sure it would make a fascinating toy for children and
would also amuse adults.
Fact 13: Who invented the Slinky? Richard James experimented with the
wires of a a steel torsion spring until he felt he had achieved the right
property of steel and the right tension. Richard James had made the spring
Fact 14: Who invented the Slinky? The simple toy needed a name and Betty
James came up with the word "Slinky" after seeing a dictionary definition of the
word describing a slinky movement as smooth, sinuous and serpentine in
Fact 15: Who invented the Slinky? Betty and Richard James used the
neighborhood kids as their user group and found that the fascinating Slinky was
a real winner with children. Richard James then designed a machine to coil 80
feet of wire into a 2½ inch spiral.
Fact 16: Who invented the Slinky? The couple borrowed $500 to start the
James Spring & Wire Company, which was later renamed as James Industries. There
next step was get a local machine shop to make 400 Slinkys. These first toys
were made of 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel and measured 2½
Fact 17: Who invented the Slinky? Richard T. James filed for a patent for
his 'Toy and process of use' on August 21, 1946 and patent number US2415012 was
granted on January 28, 1947.
Fact 18: Who invented the Slinky? The invention of the Slinky took time
to attract toy shops but in November 1945 Betty and Richard James were granted
permission to demonstrate the Slinkys at Gimbels department store in
Philadelphia who were promoting new toys for Christmas 1945. Each toy was
hand-wrapped in yellow paper and were priced at $1 each.
Fact 19: Who invented the Slinky? Betty and Richard James were unsure
that their demonstration would impress people enough to buy their Slinkys and
they even 'planted' a customer to ensure they sold at least one Slinky! They
needn't have worried. Their 400 Slinkys sold out within 90 minutes.
Fact 20: Who invented the Slinky? The Slinky was introduced at the
American Toy Fair in 1946 and due to a great advertising campaign the toy became
a US phenomenon. In its first two years, James Industries sold 100 million
Fact 21: Who invented the Slinky? Richard T. James developed a whole
range of Slinky toys. The Slinky Dog went on sale in 1952. followed by Suzie the
the Slinky worm, the Slinky Train Loco and the Slinky Crazy Eyes.
Fact 22: Who invented the Slinky? Betty and Richard T. James became
millionaires and their company and toy business flourished. But the couple had
problems and in 1960 Betty James filed for divorce. Richard T. James left the
company became an evangelical missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators and
undertook his work in Bolivia.
Fact 23: Who invented the Slinky? Betty James continued to manage the
company until 1998 when James Industries was sold to Poof Products, Inc. who
created Poof-Slinky, Inc.
Fact 24: Who invented the Slinky? Richard T. James died on July 13, 1974
in Bolivia. Betty James died of congestive heart failure in November 2008 at the
age of 90 years old. Their legacy was that they had created one of America's
most recognizable and enduring toys. Over 350 million Slinkys have been sold
between 1945 and 2016.