Throughout history there have been so many inventions. Inventions like the internet, the atom bomb, and spaceflight will continue to captivate us, and pointless inventions will continue to make us wonder why anyone even bothered. Though, there are some inventions that without them life would not be the same, and amazingly these inventions are so simple in their concept and design, that it’s likely that you scarcely even think about them most of the time. Read on to find out some of the simplest yet greatest inventions ever made.
1. The Rubber Band
Simply put, it’s a loop of latex rubber. The rubber band was patented in 1845, by Stephen Perry which was six years after Charles Goodyear developed the vulcanization process that allowed us to make natural rubber more durable and hard wearing.
Despite its simple construction, this simple loop of vulcanised rubber comes in a variety of sizes and colours, and considering its simplistic shape and form, Rubber Bands can be used for many things. These bands have two main qualities; their ability to stretch and their ability to absorb friction. So, a couple of elastic bands on either side of a rolling pan will allow you to roll out your pastry or dough to any height, an elastic band around a hose puncture will stop the leak and so on. Plus, they can be used for cable ties, and erasers. For such a simple loop of rubber, the “laggy” band is awesome.
2. The Paper Clip
The paper-clip is another great invention. The first paperclip patent was registered in 1867 although the style and shape we are most familiar with wasn’t patented until the 1890’s. This may have come as a shock to Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian who had been incorrectly thought of as the inventor of the paperclip, and although he had registered a patent for a similar design of paperclip in 1999, but unfortunately neither he nor the Norwegian patent office were aware that the gem design of paper clip was already under patent in America.
So, considering the paperclip is nothing more than a piece of thin bent metal, it’s very versatile. In its original state it’s perfect for temporarily attaching papers together, but most of us use them for a myriad of other things. Half open a paper-clip and you’ve got a way to hang Christmas decorations on your tree and the small end of a paperclip is perfect to unblock tubes of superglue or to reset electronic devices via that tiny hole on the back of them. They can be used as bookmarks, toothpicks zipper-tabs or simply just link them all together to infuriate other paperclip users in your office. With over 11 billion paperclips being bought in America alone, this little invention is even more popular today than when it was invented.
3. Post it Notes
Post-It notes are interesting because they derive from the product of a failed invention. In 1968, Dr Spencer Silver was attempting to create a strong adhesive when he accidentally created the less sticky but ultimately more re-usable glue that later went on to be the glue on Post-It notes. After a few trials, it was clear that these sticky notes were going to be a big success, and by the early 1980’s Post-it notes were being sold in stores across America, Canada and Europe. So despite their initial failure, these small bits of paper with reusable glue went on to become one of the most used office supplies across the world.
4. Masking Tape
Masking Tape, which is little more than paper backed sticky tape, is a staple part of many engineers, tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts. Masking Tape was created in 1925 by an automotive engineer growing increasingly frustrated with the strong adhesive of their existing tape pulling paint off of their cars. So he created a tearable tape with a much gentler adhesive. So it’s a given that masking tape is perfect for ensuring clean-sharp lines when painting, without the risk of damaging or removing existing paintwork. However, because the surface of masking tape can be so easily written on it can also be used for marking surfaces before drilling, or cutting. Large x’s of masking tape are put on glass to help reduce the impact of the glass breaking, and in some extreme cases you can use a masking tape x to summon mysterious government figures like X from X-Files… oh, and for those people with a more creative vein masking tape can open up a wealth of artistic possibilities.
5. Air Bubble Packaging
Air Bubble Packaging or Bubble Wrap to use its generic trademark name, is the product of yet another failed invention. During the 1950’s, two inventors, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, were trying to create three-dimensional plastic wallpaper. Well, it didn’t turn out so well, but they did discover that what they had created was perfect material for packing. So three years later, they started their own company to sell Bubble Wrap, and invention history was made.
Of course, we all know that the best thing about Bubble Wrap has nothing to do with using it for packing material but the sheer endless joy and relief we get by systematically popping all of the little bubbles.
Firstly, to set the record straight, Velcro is not the name of the hook and loop fastener itself but the name of the company that created it. The name Velcro, comprises of a combination of the French words for velvet and crochet and was created by George De Mestral, a Swiss engineer in the 1950’s after he got the idea by noticing the way the seeds of the Burdock plant had stuck to his clothes. After unsuccessfully using cotton in his first attempts at Velcro, he later hit upon the idea of using nylon and polyester.
Apart from trainers, and clothin, you can use Velcro’s hook and loop fastener for securing all kinds of things whether you’re in the house, office or garden. You can attach Velcro to the back of rugs, pictures, smoke alarms, children’s toys, gates and pretty much anything. If you need something secured, then Velcro should be one of the first things you try.
7. Sliced Bread
Surely, the greatest and simplest invention ever must be the invention by which all other things are measured. That’s right, it wasn’t the invention of bread that caused the world by storm; oh no, it was simply the method of cutting it into equal slices that changed the very world we live in. Presumably, uneven sandwiches were the bane of everyone’s existence before 1928 when sliced bread was invented.
Of course, truthfully the derivation of the popular phrase ”the greatest thing since sliced bread” is simply based on the first advertising slogan used to advertise it “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped" Well, regardless of how the phrase came about, we clearly have a lot of respect for sliced bread and probably will for a long time to come. I can’t imagine the phrase “the greatest thing since pre-packed toast”, will take off any time soon.
These inventions, which are either simple in use or design, have become such a big part of everyday life and yet they sit there without making a big song and dance about it. It’s good to know that even in today’s modern space-age world, there will always be space in our lives for a piece of sticky paper, a bit of bent metal and sliced bread products.