Who Invented the Slinky?

Slinky refers to a toy that is made from a helical spring that can reform itself with the help of the gravitational force. The toy is very famous in different countries because it has unique properties such as it stretches like an ordinary rubber band. Aside from being a toy, the merchandise is used by college professors as well as high school teachers to discuss the various characteristics of waves. In addition, the item was used by the troops sent by the United States to the Vietnam War to enhance the effectiveness of their mobile radio antennas. To learn more about this item, let us explore the history of the development of the Slinky.

History of the Product

Who invented the Slinky? United States Navy engineer Richard James was recognized as the inventor of the product. He invented the product in 1943 while working at the shipyards of William Cramp and Sons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He accidentally created the item while doing experiments on springs that have the capacity to stabilize and support instruments that were commonly used in ships at this time. His wife Betty James gave the name Slinky to the toy. The name of the toy means sleek and graceful. When the couple told the children near their place about the toy, they instantly became interested.


To make money out of the invention, Richard James and his wife got a loan of $500. They used the money to produce the item and established the James Spring and Wire Company. They packaged the toys in yellow papers and offered these for $1 each. At first, the couples had a hard time selling the products but in November 1945, they constructed an inclined plane at Gimbels’ toy section. They demonstrated the unique features of the toy to consumers with the use of the inclined plane. The toy attracted customers and 400 units were recorded to be sold in the span of three hours. The major breakthrough in the product was when it was featured in the 1946 American Toy Fair.

Additional Information and Other Important Details

As a way of recognizing the popularity of the item, the U.S Postal Service released a special postage stamp bearing the photo of the Slinky. In addition, 2001 General Assembly of Pennsylvania approved House Bill No. 1893, which recognized Slinky as the official toy of the state. Months after the release of the bill, Betty James was added to the Hall of Fame of the Toy Industry Association. Above all, in 2003, the product was included in the association’s Century of Toys List.