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Hole punch history – 131st anniversary of office tool celebrated with a Google Doodle

Facts You Need to Know; dispute as to where the first patents were filed

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The hole puncher’s history is the subject of a November 14, 2017 Google Doodle that celebrates the 131st anniversary of the “artifact of German engineering.” The hole punch is one of the most easily recognized office supplies in the world, and it’s one of the most enduring inventions.

“It’s a familiar scene with a familiar tool: the gentle rat-tat-tat on the table as you square up a dangerously thick stack of papers, still warm from the printer,” Google notes in the Google Doodle explanation. “The quiet anticipation and heady uncertainty as you ask yourself the ultimate question: can it cut through all this? The satisfying, dull ‘click!’ of the blade as it punches through the sheets. The series of crisp, identical holes it produces, creating a calming sense of unity among an otherwise unbound pile of loose leaf. And finally, the delightful surprise of the colorful confetti byproduct – an accidental collection of colorful, circular leftovers.”

We all know the common office tool, the hole puncher. It is seen punching two holes in the top of the sheet; the holes form eyes, and the paper performs a little jig as the confetti falls to the ground.

Over a century after its invention, the paper hole punch has become a staple of offices and schools worldwide, offering a simple organizational tool to keep stray documents in check.

From its humble beginnings 131 years ago, the tool became a necessary part of everyday life for most — thought its future as a necessary tool in the supply room is, perhaps, now in question with the increasingly undeniable dominance of the digital world in modern society.

To celebrate the tool’s 131st anniversary — an anniversary that it is disputed — Google has dreamed up a Doodle, alongside a bizarrely romantic (by some standards) description of the mundane motions office workers methodically repeat whilst hoping to avoid paper cuts. That ode to the paper punch can be read right here, if you’re curious.

Who invented the hole puncher?

The hole punch was invented by German entrepreneur and inventor Friedrich Soennecken, who founded the office supplies company Soennecken in 1875.

Originally known for developing a style of calligraphy known as “round writing”. and the pen nib associated with it, Soenneckenn filed a patent for his Papierlocher für Sammelmappen on 14 November 1886.

Antique Soennecken hole punch (Image: Nicolas17)

Since then, the hole punch has become a office staple, allowing workers to create holes in sheets of paper so that they can be filed in a ring binder – another of Soennecken’s inventions.

How does it work?

Using a lever and spring system, the hole puncher allows the user to line up cylindrical blades and punch holes through stacked sheets of paper with very little effort.

While modern double-hole punchers now adhere to a standard international measurement, known as ISO 838, single hole punchers are also commonly used for validating tickets and marking used playing cards.

(Image: Tom Yeshuah)

The design has also been scaled up to large machines that can punch through hundreds of sheets at a time, for use in the printing industry.

Over the years, versions of the hole puncher have been developed to work on leather, cloth, thin plastic and even sheet metal.

What does Google have to say?

“It’s a familiar scene with a familiar tool: the gentle rat-tat-tat on the table as you square up a dangerously thick stack of papers, still warm from the printer,” Google wrote in a blog post.

“The quiet anticipation and heady uncertainty as you ask yourself the ultimate question: can it cut through all this?

“The satisfying, dull “click!” of the blade as it punches through the sheets.

“The series of crisp, identical holes it produces, creating a calming sense of unity among an otherwise unbound pile of loose leaf.

 

The first recorded patents for a paper hole puncher was published in 1885, when a man named Benjamin Smith invented spring-loaded hole puncher that had a receptacle to collect those little clips — Smith called it the “conductor’s punch”. A later paper punch was patented in 1893 by Charles Brooks, and that one was referred to as a ticket punch.

Google gives the honours of having invented the paper punch to the Germans, however. Friedrich Soennecken made his patent for a paper punch device in November 1886.

That the American patents were referred to as “conductor’s punch” and “ticket punch” may be no coincidence. Between 1850 and 1900, rails became increasingly popular as a means for passenger and commercial travel, and re-imagining the possibilities of the future of the world.

Since then, of course, paper punches have become essential for school children with three-ring binders who need to keep track of their work, and even college students. But, as tablets and smartphones make the existence of paper itself less and less relevant, it remains to be seen what the future may hold for the paper punch

 

Credit: Mirror.co.uk, independent.co.uk, heavy.com

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