Invented by navy engineer, Richard James, the slinky was originally designed as a spring to stabilise a meter used to measure horsepower on battle ships. It fell off the table and continued to slink around. James instantly realised it would make a fun toy, and an iconic childhood pastime, the Slinky, was born in 1945.
With a $500 loan, Richard James developed a coil winding machine and started the James Spring & Wire Company to mass-produce the Slinky. The company has produced and sold more than 250 million Slinkies worldwide. Richard James almost bankrupted the company after making large donations to a religious cult which he joined in 1960, leaving his family and the company he founded to his wife Betty James.