It would be cool if the story of the Slinky went back to the ancient Phoenicians, or Thorg, a druid from the Iron Age who discovered the property of a metal coil on stairs, but alas, Slinky’s history is shorter than that.
It was during World War II that a marine engineer for the U.S. Navy, Richard James invented the first Slinky while working in a shipyard.
James was working on inventing quick-response anti-vibration devices for maritime instruments, trying to counteract the destabilizing force of ocean waves.
One day when one of the springs got knocked off the table he was working on, it walked end-over-end down shelves and piles of books and onto the floor.
In 1940, after the war was over, James’s wife, Betty, coined the name “Slinky,” they marketed his springs as toys, and the rest is history.