Designer: Richard T. James (1914-1974)
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: James Industries (purchased by Poof Products in 1998)
Materials: Steel wire
Background: The Slinky’s origin came about rather serendipitously. Richard James was originally a naval engineer and had been experimenting with steel springs to be used in ships. Upon knocking one of his prototypes off of a shelf, though, he discovered that it could be made to “step” on its own. After a bit of tinkering and fine-tuning, the iconic Slinky was born. The toy was named by James’ wife, Betty, after she came upon the word (meaning “sleek and graceful”) in the dictionary.
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.