Who Invented Bouncy Balls


They’re fun and they bounce super high! Bouncy balls were invented in 1965 by a man named Norman Stingley. He was a chemist who worked full time with the Bettis Rubber Company and loved to tinker with ideas during his spare time. Most scientists working for a company would be hesitant to work on any research because their employer would hold a right of first refusal. Not Stingley. When his employer told him that they didn’t want the invention, Stingley went to Wham-O and after some refinement, it became an instant hit.

What Else Came From the Bouncy Balls?

Wham-O had decided to call the invention the SuperBall and for good reason: if you bounced it hard enough, you could make the ball go about three stories high! As the story goes, Lamar Hunt saw his daughter playing with a SuperBall one day. As the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs at the time, there were a number of ideas being bantered about as a way to combine the NFL and the AFL. One of the ideas was to have a championship game between the two leagues.

After Hunt saw the ball, he thought of the name for the game: the Super Bowl. It worked because college football had bowl games after the regular season thanks to the Rose Bowl, so named because of a bowl shaped stadium where the game was played. It just didn’t resonate with his fellow owners, who decided that a more formal name was needed.

Therefore the NFL-AFL World Championship Game was born. That’s a mouthful to say, so fans started using the Super Bowl moniker to describe the game. After two years of trying to force the formal name on people, the Super Bowl was adopted in 1969. The SuperBall that inspired the name sits in the NFL Hall of Fame right now.

Do Bouncy Balls Have 92% Resiliency?

According to Wham-O, the composition of the bouncy ball was from a brand new synthetic material that made the bounciness become eternal. It was called Zectron and the stories about how Stingley came across the material were quite fanciful. The most popular story involved crossing a plum tree with an rubber plant. The patent, however, shows that it is simply rubber with sulfur as a vulcanizing agent that has been molded under 1000 pounds of pressure.

Over time, the SuperBall began to chip away and eventually many of them were thrown away. There are very few of the original bouncy balls in existence today and if you’ve ever bounced one of the originals and then bounced one of today’s bouncy balls, you know that there’s a big difference. Stingley might have been fortunate to have his employer pass on his invention, but the world was fortunate to gain the benefit of his after hours tinkering… especially football fans.