Accidental Inventions (Toys)

As you have seen, accidents give rise to many useful products. They can also lead to inventions that are extremely entertaining. For example, the slinky is enjoyed by thousands of children world wide. It was created by a naval engineer by the name of Richard James in 1943. He was trying to develop a spring that could be used to support fragile equipment on ships. When James was working one day, one of his springs got knocked off of a shelf and it continued to move on the floor. James decided to turn his spring into a child’s toy and his wife Betty named it the Slinky. It was introduced in 1945 and became immediately popular.

Wigs are another useful product that has been around for centuries, probably going back before the early Egyptians. I would have loved to been a fly on the wall when the first person decided to take some type of hair such as horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair or what not and wrapped it around their head to create the illusion of having hair. The fact is wigs have evolved in all sorts of directions from the stylized wigs that British barristers, judges, and certain parliamentary and municipal or civic officials wear as a symbol of the office, to clown wigs, to Halloween wigs, to wigs worn by actors, to wigs worn for religious purposes, to realistic hairpieces such as the well known line ofwigs by Raquel Welch, Eva Gabor and other hair alternative manufactures. Children love wearing wigs for dress up play. Unlike the Slinky or even Silly Putty, wigs can not traced their development back to one single person. However, from records of history we know the “wig” has had a long and illustrious past.

Introduced shortly after the Slinky was another child’s toy: Silly Putty. During World War II, James Wright was trying to develop a man-made substitute for rubber. While experimenting, he unintentionally dropped boric acid into silicone oil. The result was a rubbery, bouncy substance. This substance had no use for several years. In 1950, Peter Hodgson renamed it Silly Putty and sold it as a toy. Over the years, the substance has found its place among the youth all over the world. Though it can be used as a toy, Silly Putty also has many practical uses that are still being discovered. It can be used for cleaning because it sticks to dirt, pet hair, and lint. Also, different versions of this substance can be used for physical therapy and muscle strengthening. The substance has been manufactured in different consistencies for different levels of strength training. It is also used for securing things, such as wobbly furniture. The Apollo 8 crew used this invention to hold tools in place in zero gravity.

Another favorite toy, Play-Doh, was also created unintentionally. In 1955, Joseph and Noah McVicker were attempting to make wallpaper cleaner. Instead they, ended up with a substance known today as Play-Doh.

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