We’re talking about Scotch tape, duct tape, masking tape, electrical tape and more—all kinds of tape are welcome here! Even considering that shortest of lists, one can gain an appreciation for all the uses of tape. Humble though it may seem, tape is in fact one of the finest, most versatile things you probably take for granted each and every day. Mailed a package recently? Put a “kick me sign” on your co-worker’s back? Tape has helped save astronauts (Apollo 13) and saved you energy on your cooling costs. Tape helps most every kid who ever had a science fair project due and it makes sure no college dorm room goes without fine décor. And a million more things—thanks, tape!
4 The Zipper
Before the 1890s, you had one choice when it came to fly-closing technology, and it was the button (OK perhaps the snap, too, but same idea). Shortly before the turn of the last century, A New Jersey company, the Universal Fastener Company (later renamed the Fastener Manufacturing and Machine Company), began to market a new technology mastered by a man named Gideon Sundback. Your pants have never been the same since. The modern zipper had been born.
Chances are good that you will use something incorporating Velcro before the day is out. Maybe you on a pair of either totally awesome or totally not awesome shoes; maybe you are securing tools on your tactical response vest before a police raid. There are so many ways to use Velcro that trying to imagine them all would take days. Trying to imagine life before Velcro’s invention, however, just takes thinking back to before the year 1948. That’s the year a Swiss inventor named George de Mestral created the fascinating fastening technology after years spent observing how burrs would stick to his woolen socks and his dog’s fur.
2 The Post-It Note
You might know the “origin story” of the now-common Post-it note, but if not, gather around! A scientist with the company 3M by the name of Dr. Spencer Silver was attempting to invent a new, super-strong type of glue. One of his experiments “failed” completely when he instead created a remarkably weak yet reusable adhesive instead. It took more than a decade for 3M to figure out a good use for the weak glue, but finally in the early 1980s, Post-it Notes were launched, and offices have never been the same since.
1 The Paper Clip
Take a second and imagine life without this most humble of bent wires. Without paper clips, why, your papers would be blowing all over the place! You’d be stuck relying on paperweights or glue or staples, assuming someone had managed to invent the stapler but not the paper clip. These simple but effective temporary paper binding mechanisms have only been around for about a hundred and fifteen years—before that, life was a never-ending hellscape of blowing loose-leaf.