Slinking to new lows: How the inventor of the Slinky went mad with power

29 Jun 2015

While not as popular as it once was, the Slinky toy is still one of the most iconic toy brands of the 20th century, but how did a naval engineer blow his multi-million dollar idea?

Thanks to the folks over at Intel, the life of naval engineer Richard James has been brought to life through a rather funny cartoon charting how the man came up with a brilliant idea based off a total fluke at the workplace in 1943.

Perhaps most interestingly from the re-telling of the Slinky’s story is that James’s wife is clearly the one who established the brand after her husband somewhat miscalculated his earnings and dismissed the notion that he needed money anymore.

Not long after it had begun taking off in the stores, he decided to flee to Bolivia to join a missionary where he died in obscurity, while he wife Betty went on to run the company all the way up until 1998.

Like a Slinky in reverse, she climbed the stairs to corporate stardom, achieving a place on the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001.

Go Betty!

How a Naval Engineer Turned a Torsion Spring into the Slinky

Slinky Toy image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic