You know that cute spring that's put on a step and he keeps going down the stairs himself? If you did'nt, then it's called Slinky and it was invented in 1943 by a mechanical engineer in the US Navy, Richard James.
This happened when James and his friend experimented on objects to see how stable they were during the cruise on the sea. One of the springs used for the experiment fell off the table, but to James's surprise, instead of falling and rolling as expected, the spring "skipped" like a "walk" on the floor. James immediately estimated that the move has marketing value and should be turned into a game. He spent two years experimenting on springs of various materials to find the spring that would go the most successful way. James's wife, who was a partner to the idea and experiments, proposed to spring the name "Slinky" and in 1945 they began to produce it. In 1947, the couple patented the product.
To produce the Slinky, Richard and Betty took a $ 500 loan and founded the James Springs and Wire Company. Richard invented a machine that could wrap and turn twenty-four feet of metal tape, to Slinky, in about 10 seconds. The metal used to make the slinki came from Sweden. The first production was of 400 units.
The meaning of the name Slinky is: convoluted, elusive, and graceful.
Sales to the stores did not succeed at first. The shop owners were not interested in the spring of the move and did not think they could sell it to their customers. Only in December 1945 did the positive turnaround occur: Richard and Betty James were allowed to demonstrate the new toy descending on "mini steps" placed at the end of a sales table in the game department of the Gimbales department store in Philadelphia. Before the show, Slinky Betty was so afraid that no one would buy, that she had called her friend and suggested that she give her a dollar to buy the first Slinky. Apparently it was not necessary. After the Slinky offer came down the stairs, when Betty and her husband arrived at the stand, they found dozens of people clustering round the table waving dollar bills. Within 90 minutes, all 400 units in their possession were sold.
Today, the plastic Slinky is manufactured in various colors, and by 2007, more than 350,000 Slinky units were sold worldwide.
For Slinky Day, sit on the steps with your Slinky and let him gracefully descend below.
A video of Slinky descending the escalator: