In 1965, Charles Eames said, “Among the great and elegant design exceptions is a toy produced this year that has swept the country. What is it? A small bouncing ball—the Super Ball.”
Chemical engineer Norm Stingley created the Super Ball from a material called Zectron, a synthetic rubber polymer polybutadiene that includes hydrated silica, zinc oxide and stearic acid. According to Wham-O, the manufacturer of the Bouncy Ball, Zectron was “originally intended to cap off gushing oil wells.”
Stingley found a far more playful use for the material. He vulcanized Zectron with sulfur at 165 degrees Celsius and at a pressure of 80 atmospheres (10+01). That’s 1,175 pounds per square inch (10+03) or 8,101,339 pascals (10+06). The result? A toy with six times the bounce of other rubber balls. Within a year of its introduction, Wham-O had sold 6 million Super Balls. In 2007, the product was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.