The Slinky is one of the world’s great toys. It’s 24 metres of 5cm wide wire coiled up in a spring which rolls end over end down steps & inclines. Witness its great scene in Ace Ventura, When Nature Calls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltwxC19s5u8
It was invented by naval engineer Richard James and first shown in 1945. James was investigating metal coils to keep equipment steady on ships, when a coil fell off his bench and started to behave in typical slinky fashion.
His wife Betty named the Slinky from a Swedish word for ‘stealthy, sleek and sinuous’. When Richard James abandoned her (and their six children) to join a religious cult in Bolivia, Betty wouldn’t consider laying off loyal employees. She shifted the business to her home town of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and persisted in successfully combining the role of mother and entrepreneur. In 2001, an act of parliament was passed naming Slinky the State Toy of Pennaylvania.
After raising six children as a single parent, naming the magical toy, and saving the Slinky company in 1960, Betty James died in 2008, aged 90. The Slinky is still made in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, USA on the original equipment. The only change is that it’s made from shinier American metal rather than the initial blue/black Swedish steel.
– Foundation Inductee, USA Toy Hall of Fame