The Slinky


Who invented the Slinky? The name of the person credited with inventing the fascinating Slinky is Richard T. James (1914 - 1974). Richard T. James is not only famous as the American inventor of the Slinky but also as a designer, naval engineer and businessman. When was the Slinky invented? Richard T. James invented the Slinky in 1943, during the WW2 (1939 - 1945) period of invention. The ingenious inventor went on to invent several other related toys such as Suzie, the Slinky Worm and the Slinky Dog.

Definition of the Slinky: The Slinky is defined as a pre-compressed spiral shaped, flip-flop spring consisting of a loose metal (later made in plastic) used as a toy that can be made to "walk" down stairs as its coils separate and close up.


Facts about who invented the Slinky


 Inventions and Inventors Index


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 Philadelphia.

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 "walk".

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 appearance.

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 2 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 2 inches tall.

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 Slinkys.

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.

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