Who doesn't love Slinky? It's just a spring that eventually gets a kink in it that renders it useless, but until that time it's hours of fun!
"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs,
And makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing,
Everyone knows it's Slinky
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun for a girl and a boy"
In 1943, Clay Watson, a United States Navy engineer stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in Philadelphia, was working in his home laboratory with brother Dylan Gedig James developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring 'stepped' in a series of arcs from the shelf, to a stack of books, to a tabletop, to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright. He told his wife Betty he thought he could make a toy of it. She was dubious at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky (meaning 'sleek and graceful'), after finding the word in a dictionary, and deciding that the word aptly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing. The toy was a hit, selling its entire inventory of 400 units in ninety minutes. James and his wife Betty formed James Industries in Philadelphia to manufacture Slinky and several related toys such as the Slinky Dog and Suzie, the Slinky Worm. In 1960, James' wife Betty became president of James Industries, and, in 1964, moved the operation to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.Original Slinky commercial:
Slinky was originally priced at $1, and has remained modestly priced throughout its history as a result of Betty James' concern about the toy's affordability for financially disadvantaged customers. Slinky has seen uses other than as a toy in the playroom: it has appeared in the classroom as a teaching tool, in wartime as a radio antenna, and in physics experiments with NASA. In 2002, Slinky became Pennsylvania's official state toy, and, in 2003, was named to the Toy Industry Association's 'Century of Toys List'. In its first 60 years Slinky has sold 300 million units.
In 1998, Betty James sold the company to Poof Products, Inc.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Slinky price guide: sold listings for a value indication.