Design: Slinky Designer: Richard T. James (1914-1974) Date: 1943 Country of Origin: United States Manufacturer: James Industries (purchased by Poof Products in 1998) Materials: Steel wire Background: The Slinkys origin came about rather serendipitously. Richard James was originally a naval engineer and had been experimenting with steel springs to be used in ships. Upon knocking one of his prototypes off of a shelf, though, he discovered that it could be made to step on its own. After a bit of tinkering and fine-tuning, the iconic Slinky was born. The toy was named by James wife, Betty, after she came upon the word (meaning sleek and graceful) in the dictionary. Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.