Betty James

Her husband invented the iconic spring toy, but Betty James, who died Nov. 20 at 90, gave the Slinky its name and hand wrapped the first ones on her kitchen table. She also developed the renowned and catchy jingle--"What walks downstairs alone or in pairs/ And makes a slinkity sound?/ A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing/ Ev'ryone knows it's Slinky!"--which launched hundreds of millions of Slinkys down staircases worldwide.

In 1943, while working as a mechanical engineer in Philadelphia, Richard James saw a torsion spring fall off his desk and tumble end over end across the floor. "I think I...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!