George built his first prototype, or testable model, when he was 16. One day, he took apart his bed and stretched a sheet of canvas across the wooden frame.
Then he jumped on it. He noticed this first device had a problem: It wasn’t bouncy!
Four years later, George shared his idea with Larry Griswold, his gymnastics coach at the University of Iowa. They began working together to improve his device, which George called a “bouncing rig.”
They decided to line the metal frame with rubber rings. When a person jumped on the canvas, the rings stretched downward. As the rings snapped back to their original shape, the canvas flung the jumper high into the air. George called this prototype the “trampoline” for the Spanish word trampolín, which means “diving board.”
George thought his invention could be used to train athletes. Then one summer, he took a prototype to a camp for kids to test. Kids had so much fun on the trampoline that he couldn’t get them off it. “George realized his invention had a lot more potential,” says Dian.