It was American Richard Gurley Drew who came up with the world’s first transparent cellophane adhesive tape in 1930.

The first instance of an adhesive tape was seen in 1845 when Dr Horace Day, an American surgeon, applied rubber glue to strips of cloth to invent surgical tape. Then Johnson & Johnson invented the Band-Aid in 1920.

However, it was a college dropout who came up with a tape that could be used for non-medical purposes. Richard Gurley Drew was a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student when he joined a small sandpaper company called the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (later called 3M Company) as a lab technician.

In the 1920s, two-tone paint jobs were very popular with car owners. Once, Drew was at an auto shop, testing his company’s sandpaper samples when he overheard the auto painters complaining about the difficulty in making a clean border between the two colours. The incident gave him the idea of developing a masking tape, which when laid on the car, would prevent paint from seeping through and also come off clean without spoiling the paint finish and leaving no sticky residue.

It took Drew two years of experimentation to produce the world’s first paper-based adhesive masking tape. During the trials, there was too little adhesive on the tape and it kept falling off. The frustrated auto painter snapped and said, “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” (‘Scotch’ meant ‘stingy’.) That is how the tape came to be branded as Scotch Tape in 1925.

Scotch Tape was a huge success and Drew followed it up with the world’s first transparent cellophane adhesive tape in 1930. In the U.K., it was called Sellotape.

Picture Credit : Google 

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