Remembering Betty.


The toy we know so well was co-invented and named by a woman most of us are less familiar with. Her name was Betty James and she passed away in November at the age of 90. Her partner in creating this toy was her husband Richard, who had the original idea when he saw a torsion spring fall off a table and flip over. The first 400 Slinkys the couple made sold out in 90 minutes at Gimbles department store just before Christmas 1945. The price: $1 each. Fifteen years later, Ms. James’ husband left her and their six children. It was then that Ms. James took over the toy company they’d started, and she ran the business until 1998. Ms. James believed that she had an obligation provide a good toy for children whose families can’t afford expensive toys, which is why the Slinky has remained affordable for 63 years.