When Was Silly Putty Invented?

Why and when was Silly putty Invented? Who invented it? How did it become Famous?
When Was Silly Putty Invented

Playing with clay is loved by all kids but inventing a clay toy was not the first choice of the inventors of Silly Putty. It has entertained kids for years and even today one can’t help themselves from stretching and squeezing Silly Putty. They also made it using rubber and synthetic material. Apart from its texture and compositions, there are other interesting facts. You will get to know them all, along with the answer to when was Silly Putty invented, in this article. Get ready to learn about your favorite toy.

1. What is Silly Putty?

Silly Putty is a brand of toy product that is formed when boric acid and silicone oil are mixed and the result gives a gooey sticky material that bounces. This toy is later modified using different materials to make it more exciting for the kids. (Also read Where does Sea Glass come from?)

2. When was Silly Putty Invented and by Whom?

At the time of World War II in 1940, Japan took over all the rubber-producing companies in the Pacific Rim. It made importing rubber difficult for the United States and neighboring countries. To fulfill the requirement of rubber, the United States government assigned various companies to make synthetic rubber.

Many people have claimed to have made the first putty or synthetic rubber but James Wright is the one considered as the inventor of Silly Putty. He was a Scottish inventor working at General Electric, an American multinational company when he got the task of making a substitute for rubber. So as per Crayola, it was Wright who had the patent of Silly Putty under his name. (Also read Who Knows The Coca Cola Recipe?)

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3. What are the Properties of Silly Putty?

It incorporated several unique properties like:

  • It can bounce and be molded in shapes like clay but was also exceptionally stretchable.
  • Unlike rubber, it had a very high melting point and it was not toxic.
  • It can be melted in alcohol but not in water.
  • It was neither fully solid nor liquid as it showed the property of both the states of matter. (Also read All Battery Sizes with Pictures)

It was not the rubber substitute desired by the government that still made history. When it was invented, no one knew that it could break into pieces if thrown from a height while nothing will happen if struck with a hammer. It was called Nutty Putty due to its properties.

4. How did the Business grow?

When was Silly Putty invented, it was of no use to the government, so Wright sent it to several scientists and researchers across the country. He asked them to find out any reasonable use for his product, but they couldn’t. For three years, it remained on the shelf unused.

  •  IN 1949, Ruth Fallgatter, a toy store owner, heard about the putty. After a decision with the marketer Hodgson, the sale of putty in a transparent pack started.
  • The name was changed to Bouncing Putty to attract customers. Although this venture did not last long. After the tie-up with Ruth Fallgatter halted, Hodgson was in debt and also borrowed money to buy a batch of putty to carry on his new idea. Later he hired students of Yale College and then his business took off. He acquired the rights of Nutty Putty and renamed it Silly Putty.
  • Initially, the sales were not as expected, but after an article published in New Yorker, the sales rose to 250000 pieces within the first three days.
  • In the beginning, Silly Putty targeted adult customers. But in 1955, the business resumed after the Korean War and the majority of its buyers were among the age group of six to twelve.
  • Its sales increased among kids when Peter Hodgson released the very first television commercial of Silly Putty in 1957. It aired during the famous classical kids’ show, The Howdy Doody Show. (Also read Insights of Acme Warner Bros)
  • In 1977, the owners and makers of Crayola products, Binney & Smith, purchased the rights of Silly Putty. Up till 2005, the sales of silly putty eggs have exceeded the benchmark of six million eggs.

Now you know when was Silly Putty invented and about its business. Let’s read some facts about Silly Putty. (Also read Why Album Sales are Down?

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5. What are Some Interesting Facts About Silly Putty?

A. Egg-Shaped Putty

By the time it became famous among kids, the spring season had arrived and so did Easter. Hodgson worked on his idea of selling putty in plastic egg shells assuming it would be a big hit.

B. Restrictions on Silicone

During the Korean War (25-June-1950 to 27-July-1953), the supply of silicone was restricted for the first year of the war. It affected the business very much. But at the beginning of the second year, things started getting back on track.

C. If Stuck to Hair or Clothes

Putty is soluble in alcohol and hence easily removable from skin, clothes, or hair by applying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Any other liquid substance with an alcohol content will also work. (Also read 6 Nasal Hair Facts)

6. What are the Uses of Silly Putty?

  • It is like an adhesive similar to dried fevicol or any other art and craft glue. It is useful in copying texts from newspapers, comics, or any other printed paper.
  • Some companies like Thera Putty and Power Putty have made a few alterations to the chemical properties of putty. They developed a variety of putty with different levels of resistance. Occupational therapists used this putty for rehabilitation therapy of hand injuries. (Also read Learn How to Zentangle)
  • When was Silly Putty invented, it was available only in one texture. Now, it can be bought in different textures and consistency as per the buyer’s preferences as it is used as a stress-reducing tool. (Also read How to Heal Yourself Emotionally?)
  • Silly putty is used as a masking medium during the assemblies of the spray-painting model. Scale building hobbyists prefer it during such assembly.
  • It is also good for cleaning small gaps like keyboard keys as the dirt and dust stick to the putty.
  • A Silly Putty-backed lap is used for grinding the mirrors of astronomical telescopes in Steward Observatory. (Also read 22 Lesser Known Uses of Vodka)

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7. How did the Brand Became Famous?

  • John. A. Fleckner, the museum’s archivist, said that Silly Putty is a piece of case study for business and invention purposes. It became a permanent part of the National Museum of American History on 28-May-2001. (See Anthropomorphic Art Meaning with Examples)
  • The brand was famous worldwide even in the Soviet Union and Europe in 1961. It even went to space in 1968 when astronauts of Apollo 8 took it with them into lunar orbit. They used it to fix their things in one place in the spaceship, preventing them from floating here and there.
  • Even since its invention, putty products have been children’s favorite and it was put into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001. 
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