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Victims of Sandy Hook

Stop the Slaughter of Innocents. Congress is bought and paid for by gun lunatics and gun promotion groups. If you want to live in a safe America, help buy Congress back for America. Send a donation to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 909 Third Avenue, 15th Floor New York, NY 10022

Accidental Creativity: the Slinky

Many times being creative is not optional. You must be creative in order to earn a living or to keep your job. That's when you need to use the techniques described on this website. But many people have created important things that made them famous or rich entirely by accident. Here's one example:

In 1943, a naval mechanical engineer named Richard James was working on developing a spring that would support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships. He accidentally knocked one of the springs off his bench, and watched as the spring "walked" across the floor to a stack of books, and re-coiled itself to stand upright.

When James got home he told his wife, Betty, about how the spring walked across the floor. She was doubtful, so James brought the spring home and demonstrated that indeed the spring could be made to walk across the floor. Neighborhood children became excited when the spring was demonstrated to them.

They decided to try to sell the spring as a toy. The couple borrowed $500 to start a company named James Industries. Betty named the toy Slinky after the sound the metal spring made as it walked across the floor. James Industries had 400 Slinkys made by a local machine shop, hand-wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 each.

The Jameses could not find a toy store that was interested in selling Slinkys but, in November 1945, Gimbels department store in Philadelphia agreed to let them set up an inclined plane in the toy section to demonstrate the toy. Slinky was a hit, selling 400 units within ninety minutes.

Richard James developed a machine that could produce a Slinky within seconds, and opened James Industries manufacturing shop in Albany, New York. In 1952, James Industries created the Slinky Dog toy. Other Slinky toys introduced in the 1950s included the Slinky train, Slinky worm, and a pair of glasses with had Slinkys with attached plastic eyeballs that they called Crazy Eyes.

James Industries licensed the patent to several other manufacturers including Wilkening Mfg. Co. of Philadelphia which produced spring toys such as Mr. Wiggle's Leap Frog and Mr. Wiggle's Cowboy.

In its first 5 years, James Industries sold 100 million Slinkys with revenue, adjusted for inflation, of 6 billion dollars. Over 300 million Slinkys were sold between 1945 and 2005, and even today the original Slinky is still a bestseller.

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