Did you know: The Slinky was originally intended for Naval Battleships?
68 years ago this month, one of the most famous helical springs of all time, The Slinky, made its public debut.
Making its debut at Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia, PA, the toy was an instant hit, selling out its entire stock in less than 90 minutes.1 Since this time, the Slinky has become arguably the most recognizable spring of all time, tumbling its way into the hearts and homes of children all around the globe.
But did you know that originally the Slinky was never intended to be a toy. In fact, if it wasn’t for a young Naval Engineer, Richard James, the Slinky may never have been born.
Turning an Every Day Spring into A Million Dollar Invention
Way back in 1943, Slinky inventor, Richard James was sitting in a Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. His job wasn’t to design a toy. Instead, he was experimenting with helical springs, trying to find a way to use them to measure the horsepower output on naval battleships.
As the story goes, upon accidently knocking a spring off his desk, Richard watched in awe as the spring tumbled end-over-end down a stack of books and across the floor. It was at that moment when inspiration struck, as he realized, “I can make a toy out of this” – thus setting in motion (quite literally) an idea that would become one of the bestselling toys of all time.
So this month, as we celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Slinky, remember inspiration can strike anywhere. And it can be brought upon by some of the most common everyday items, like a helical spring.