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In 1943, Richard James invented one of the greatest toys ever. James, a naval engineer, was conducting an experiment with tension springs. During the experiment, one of the springs fell to the floor and began to "walk." James took the spring home to his wife, Betty, and asked her if she thought it was something they could pursue. Betty had a vision for a toy and scoured the dictionary, looking for an appropriate name. She came across the word "slinky," a Swedish word meaning stealthy, sleek and sinuous. Toy history was made.
The Slinky debuted at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1945. Both Betty and Richard were skeptical about how the Slinky would sell. All their doubts were put to rest when all 400 Slinkys for sale were purchased in 90 minutes. Since then, over three hundred million Slinkys have been sold worldwide.
The Slinky is still made in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania with the original equipment Richard James created. The Slinky has changed little in over 60 years. A crimp was added to the ends of the wire to ensure safe play.
Though it was developed to be a toy, other applications for the Slinky have been discovered. The Slinky has been used as an antenna by soldiers in Vietnam, as a therapy tool and for coordination development. The possibilities are endless.
The Slinky has even made it to the silver screen. Slinky's appearances include: Ace Ventura- When Nature Calls; Demolition Man; Other People's Money; and Hairspray. In Disney's digitally-animated feature Toy Story, the Slinky Dog played an important role.
The Slinky (under House Bill No.1893 - Session 2001, of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania) has been named the Official State Toy of Pennsylvania as of November 4, 2001.