What Do You Know About Slinky – The Spring that Walks?


Slinky is basically a toy invented by Richard James in the 1940s. It is nothing but a precompressed helical spring, which has a high level of flexibility and springiness. The low longitudinal stiffness of this spring makes it ideal for demonstrating several physical phenomena.

How was the Slinky Invented?

Such an innovative toy. Though it looks simple, there is a story behind its creation. Once, a torsion spring fell from Richard’s desk and it walked its way to a stack of books. After coming to a halt it coiled back up. This accidental phenomenon urged Mr. James to research on the properties of the spring. He got back home and started researching, in order to create a spring that walks. After several attempts, he was successful. His wife named the spring as “Slinky”. It is the term used to describe a kind of women’s clothing, which is slender and sinuous.

How Does a Slinky Work?

Slinky is a helical spring, which can climb down the stairs or any inclined plane. How? Well, the spring is extended and its one end is held closer to the lower plane (making an inverted “U”). When the end of the spring is released, the potential energy stored in it gets converted into kinetic energy. This causes the spring to perform repetitive flips as its coils tumble one after the other over the stairs. This appears as if the spring is climbing down the stairs or the plane.

What are the Beneficial Features of Slinky?

There are a vast number of benefits offered by these helical tension springs. Here are some key beneficial features of slinky, which makes it a preferred choice in a wide range of applications and industries:

  • They have a rugged construction, which makes them strong and able to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
  • These helical springs are highly resistant to corrosion.
  • These springs are very easy to install. This helps save a lot of installation time.
  • Slinky springs are compact and light in weight, which makes them easy to carry.
  • They are designed with high precision and have a great dimensional accuracy.

Some Astounding Facts About Slinky

This special type of spring has some really cool facts. Read on to know some really astonishing facts about the slinky:

  • The original slinky that was manufactured using around 80 feet of wire.
  • The design of slinky was originally aimed for use in battleship engine horsepower meter as a tension spring.
  • The success of this spring has helped it to make its way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In addition to this, the slinky is also displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
  • The slinky was named among the top 10 toys of the 20th century by The Discovery and History Channels.
  • In 1999, slinky appeared on the commemorative stamp issued by The U.S. Postal Service.
  • This helical spring has also made its presence felt on a NASA space mission.

These were some amazing facts about slinky – the walking spring. No doubt, this toy and mechanical object will retain its popularity in the future too.