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Woman who gave name to Slinky dies

December 3, 2008 From American Institute of Steel Construction

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/hooke’s_law.)

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 contact:
Tasha O`Berski
Communications Department
(312) 670-5439
[email protected]












American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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