Peter Farran

Slinky

In Classics on October 17, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Slinky Spring
The Slinky Spring

Creator: Richard James
Created: 1940
Origin: Holidaysburg, USA

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The slinky spring is a toy which takes advantage of the unusual properties of a large diameter thin wire helical spring. It can be made to walk down a flight of stairs or walk across an inclined plain powered by it’s own shifting weight and momentum. It was designed out of an accidental observation by a naval engineer Richard James at a ship yard when a thin wire helical spring seemed to playfully take a step as it fell from the table to the floor. With some refinement James was convinced that  this type of spring could make for an interesting toy.

With the support of James’ who named the toy Slinky it was developed in the early 1940s and first offered for sale in 1945 at Gimbel’s department store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has remained in continuous production in the United States since then. Production was moved to Holidaysburg, Pennsylvannia in 1964 after the business was taken over by James’ wife Betty in 1960.

The Slinky has maintained it’s popularity through embedding itself in our culture. It’s appeared in school science labs to demonstrate longitudinal wave motion, in army camps as makeshift radio antennae and even been taken in space by NASA astronauts. The slinky is irresistible and instantly recognizable. A true design classic.

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