In 1960, boat upholsterer Mike Carrier came home one California summer day to find that his 10-year-old son and his friends had used a hose to wet down the concrete driveway. They took turns slipping and sliding across the surface, and Carrier knew he could create a safer option — what would become the first Slip ‘N Slide.
Using a 50-foot roll of Naugahyde, a vinyl-coated fabric he used on boats, Carrier sewed a seam on one side with slits cut every few inches. A garden hose was hooked onto one end, while the other end was sewn shut, creating pressure that pushed water through the slits and wet down the vinyl surface. Carrier’s boss happened to know someone at the toy company Wham-O, and by February 1961 the “Slip ‘N Slide Magic Waterslide” was on display at the New York Toy Fair.
The company changed the material from Naugahyde to the now-iconic yellow vinyl plastic and sold the slide for $9.95. Wham-O has trademarked the use of the color yellow for plastic water slides and won a $6 million verdict against a rival toy company for infringing on that trademark.
Though more than 30 million Slip ‘N Slides had been sold by 2011, the slide is waiting to achieve the ultimate honor. The Slip ‘N Slide was a finalist for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2014, but it still has yet to make the final ballot.