Paper Punch - History of Paper Punch

Paper Punch

Found throughout offices and schoolrooms, the paper punch is a simple device that allows for the creation of a hole in paper. The paper punch has two main designs. The first is a small handheld device that punches a single hole, while the second is a larger freestanding device that punches three consecutively spaced holes, to allow for the paper to fit into a three-ring folder.

The idea for a paper punch came from two ticket collectors in the late 1800s. Benjamin Smith of Massachusetts patented the first device in 1885. It was a design quite similar to the handheld devices of today, and was created to mark a ticket as collected. For convenience, the device also contained a compartment to collect the paper droppings. Charles Brooks patented another similar device in 1893.

From these American creations, other paper punches were created throughout the world. Interestingly, these devices are not commonly three-hole punches, but instead two or four. These international paper punches were developed to accommodate the structural differences in paper holders between the US and the rest of the world.

Over time, advancements in the traditional hole punch remained small, as the original designs were fairly efficient and easy to create. The most notable advancement made within the field was the transition from metal paper punches to plastic ones. This decreased the cost as it lowered the metal working necessary to create each punch. Other, more unusual developments have been made to allow for differently shaped punches compared to the traditional circle. These include shapes like a square, star or heart.

Today, paper punches are a commonly used office supply throughout the world. Although only small advancements have been made since their original 1890s design, paper punches continue to be a necessity for any student, teacher or office professional.

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