When Archimedes gently eased himself into his bath, all he wanted to do was have a bit of a soak; getting all scientific and exclaiming 'Eureka!' wasn't foremost in his mind at all. Likewise, mechanical engineer Richard James wasn't intending to create one of the best loved, most recognisable and enduring toys of all-time when he dropped a spring of his invention onto a pile of books. It just happened.
Abandoning his original plan to devise an instrument-steadying device for ships at sea, he and his wife Betty (who found the word 'slinky' in a dictionary - it's a Swedish term meaning sleek and sinuous) instead began selling the 98-coil spring in Gimbel's Department Store, Philadelphia. On that first day back in 1943, they sold out of the original Slinky, peddling 400 in no time. Over 50 years later, total sales top a quarter-of-a-billion. More wire has been used making Slinkys than in creating North America's telephone network. That's over three million miles of the stuff.
Anyway, enough of the Norris McWhirtering. Superlatives and stats aside, Slinky is still hypnotically captivating; a strangely compelling fiddle toy. A simple hand-to-hand shuffle to pass the time is as equally satisfying as a well-prepped stairwell descent. No-one will walk past one of these metallic spirals without going 'COOL! Slinky!' and then attempting to make it walk wherever there is split-level surfacing for the spring to do its stuff. More than half-a-century after its first appearance, Slinky is still great: greater still when bundled with a beautifully produced book of Slinky lore and legend as it is here.
This bloke has got the biggest one
in the world.