History Of Slinky
of the most famous toys in history originated in a meter for
testing horsepower on battle ships. As World War II raged
on in 1943, marine engineer Richard James worked at his desk
in Philadelphia's Cramp Shipyard. It was a routine day, but
a harmless mishap forever changed the life of James and his
wife Betty and sowed the seed that produced the immortal Slinky®.
torsion spring used in a testing meter fell off James' desk
and tumbled end over end across the floor. James took it home
to Betty that evening and said, "I think I can make a
toy out of this." This he did by devising a steel formula
that allowed the spring to "walk".
accomplished, Betty thumbed through the dictionary for a fitting
name for the toy and found it in Slinky®, which was defined
as "stealthy, sleek and sinuous". In 1945, Richard
and Betty used a $500 loan to pay a company for manufacturing
a small quantity of Slinks and an attempt was made to sell
it through retail outlets in Philadelphia.
with no name recognition, the spring didn't sell. It just
sat on the counter. As Christmas neared, Gimbels Department
Store agreed to provide counter space for 400 Slinkys and
Richard James went down ahead of Betty to demonstrate the
toy. It was a snowy evening, and the Jameses feared the worst,
but when Betty arrived at Gimbels, she spotted a mob of people
with dollars in their hands, and they were gathered around
the Slinky® display. Within 90 minutes all 400 Slinkys
were sold, and the rest is toy history.
A factory was established
in Philadelphia and Richard quit his job at the shipyard to
devote full time to the Slinky®, which was the hit of
the 1946 American Toy Fair in New York City. During the 1950's
business boomed, but Richard James' life took a course that
led to his going to South America in 1960.
with the responsibility of six children and now a floundering
business, Betty James began a rebirth of the Slinky dream
by relocating the factory to her hometown of Hollidaysburg,
a small town adjacent to Altoona. By 1960, Betty had a unique
co-op advertising plan in full swing, aided by the production
of a "jingle" that is still the sound behind Slinky®
sales continued to increase through the years and a number
of new items were added to the James Industries line of toys.
In 1990, a national survey by a publication revealed that
89.8 percent of the people in America knew what a Slinky was
or were familiar with the jingle.
in 1998 by Poof Products, a leading American toy company,
Slinky® is firmly entrenched as one of the leading staples
of the toy industry and is one of America's most recognized
Other milestones include:
Discovery and History Channels selected Slinky as one of
the top 10 toys of the 20th Century.
U.S. Postal Service honored Slinky on a 1999 commemorative
participated on a NASA space mission.
300 million Slinkys have been sold.