“It consists of forming same of a spring material, such as a piece of wire, that is bent to a rectangular, triangular, or otherwise shaped hoop, the end parts of which wire piece form members or tongues lying side by side in contrary directions.”
This was the official description used by Norwegian Johan Vaaler when applying for a patent in 1901. Do you know what he invented?
At left is the diagram he attached to his application. At right is how we see it today.
And not only is it now one of the most-used office supply in the world, it also has some other claims to fame which make me proud to be a paperclip owner and user!
During World War II, the small but mighty paperclip became a symbol of resistance for the Norwegian people. Started by students at the University of Oslo, wearing a paperclip on your lapel showed solidarity amongst the residents in Nazi-occupied Norway – showing that the people were still “bound together.” Eventually the Nazis caught on, and showing a paperclip in public became illegal and grounds for arrest.
In more recent years, a single red paperclip is the star of a book explaining the true journey of a Canadian man who bartered, over the course of nearly one year, one red paperclip for increasingly bigger and more valuable items until he was the owner of a house! His journey started with a blog, eventually became a book, and has brought him international attention.
Paperclips. Not just for paper anymore.