“Slinky was once just a little old everyday spring on a ship,” read a brochure describing the origins of the popular toy. Speaking about inventory Richard James, it continued, “One day Dick took it home to show his family. His little boy, Tommy, surprised everybody by making the spring walk down the stairs — all by itself! That gave Dick the idea to make this little old spring into a toy. His wife, Betty, named it Slinky!” What started as a chance discovery went on to become an international bestseller that has helped generations of children ponder the principles of gravity and tension.
Richard James, who began his career as a naval engineer, spent a few years perfecting his design before bringing it to market in 1945. It was Betty James, his wife, who brought Slinky its international success, marketing the cleverly named toy with a catchy jingle and playful television ads. When she died in 2008, The New York Times estimated that the number of Slinkys sold since the 1940s could circle the globe 150 times.
This Slinky was Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, The Value of Good Design, on View at The Museum of Modern Art Through June 15th, 2019.