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Woman who gave name to “Slinky” dies
Posted by MSC on December 9, 2008 at 9:42 AM.

Betty James, co-founder of the Slinky toy empire, passed away on November 20 at age 90. Serendipity struck in 1943 when her former husband, Richard, saw a tension spring fall to the ground. The spring kept moving and an idea for a toy was born. (Hooke’s Law, written in 1678, states that in an elastic material strain is proportional to stress. For more information on the physics behind the Slinky and Hooke’s Law, visit


Richard told his wife he thought he could make a toy out of tension springs and spent two years figuring out the best steel gauge and coil to use and how to manufacture the toy. Betty named the toy “Slinky” after discovering in a dictionary the Swedish word meaning traespiral – sleek or sinuous. Each Slinky consists of 80 feet of wire coiled into a 2-inch spiral. Betty took over as CEO of the family business in 1960 and revitalized and expanded the toy line into the American icon it is today.


 AISC has adopted the slinky as a mascot symbolizing the strength, flexibility, and sustainability of structural steel. In the past few years, AISC has distributed more than 10,000 Slinkies to designers and others.For more information on Betty James, you can visit

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