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Silly PuttySilly Putty - At the beginning of World War II, America needed an inexpensive substitute for rubber to help with the war effort. In 1943, James Wright, a General Electric engineer working on a synthetic rubber project at their New Haven facility accidentally dropped boric acid into a container of silicon oil. When he retrieved the substance, he notice it was very pliable and that it bounced. In addition, the substance copied any newspaper or comic-book print that it touched. He dubbed this strange substance "nutty putty."

Samples of the product were sent to numerous scientists for research purposes but nothing substantial came of their investigations. Then, in 1949, Peter Hodgson, a former advertising copywriter running a New Haven toy store observed a piece of this strange "goop" at a party.

Thinking the pliable goo had marketing potential, Hodgson bought the production rights from GE, purchased $147 dollars worth of the stuff and with the assistance of a Yale university student, divided the putty into one-ounce balls and packaged them inside little plastic colored egg-shaped containers to sell during the upcoming Easter season. Naming his product Silly Putty, the pink polymer sold for $1 a piece.

After Silly Putty was mentioned in The New Yorker magazine's "Talk of the Town" section on Aug. 26, 1950, the simple product became a 1950s craze and went on to become a multi-million dollar industry.

Peter Hodgson, once said of his invention "Silly Putty appeals to people of superior intellect." At his death in 1976, Peter Hodgson's product had earned him an estate worth $140 million. Reportedly, Americans still buy more than two million eggs of Silly Putty every year.

An ad in the back of the 1964 issue of DC Comics The Atom No. 14. read: "You can have hours and hours of fun with Silly Putty...the wonder toy of the 20th century."

Other uses for Silly Putty include picking up lint and pet hair, cleaning typewriter keys, plugging leaks, and being used as a nifty hand-held physical therapy tool for relieving stress-reduction.

In 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 used pieces of Silly Putty to alleviate boredom and to secure their tools in zero-gravity.

One formula for Silly Putty found on the Internet describes its composition as follows: 65% Dimethyl Siloxane, hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid; 17% Silica, quartz crystalline; 9% Thixotrol ST; 4% Polydimethylsiloxane; 1% Decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane; 1% Glycerine; and 1% Titanium Dioxide.

Silly Putty comes in classic, glow-in-the-dark, glitter, and four hot fluorescent colors (magenta, orange, green and yellow).

Silly Putty® is a registered trademark of Binney & Smith Inc.

TRIVIA NOTE: In 2001, comedian George Carlin wrote a book entitled "Napalm & Silly Putty, a compendium of cranky meditations and observations on life.


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