As a kid, I used up many rolls of adhesive tape for various art projects and to repair paper and cardboard toys. One day, mom presented me with my very own roll of Scotch tape. The metal dispenser was colorfully decorated with the red plaid design. Even when the roll was empty, I played with the package for several weeks. Scotch tape was a mainstay at home and school. There was always some item that needed sticking or fixing.
Scotch tape began its historical place in our lives on this date in 1930. It was then, that Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, 3M, put the world’s first transparent self-adhesive tape on the market. One of 3M’s engineers, Richard Drew, came up with the idea as an offshoot from one of his earlier inventions.
In 1925, Drew had been testing 3M’s only product, wet or dry sandpaper. While at an auto bodyshop, Drew observed that the car painters were having problems dividing the colors on two-tone paint jobs. This was his inspiration for masking tape.
3M’s masking tape evolution took one more step before becoming successful. A customer complained to Richard Drew about a quality problem. He said, “take this tape back to your stingy Scotch bosses and tell them to put more adhesive on it.” 3M executives thought the insult was very catchy, so they copyrighted it for their marketing purposes. Even so, many people use the term as a generic label for any adhesive tape.
Drew’s brainstorm for transparent tape came about as a solution for food vendors to seal packages and wrapping. It was first used at a bakery in Chicago. The bakery’s advice to 3M was that the tape should be a retail product. Sure enough, Scotch transparent tape became handy during the Great Depression. People needed to stretch their dollars, so fixing documents and books, window shades, children’s items and even money could be done quickly, easily, and cheaply.
The final step in the tape’s development took place in 1932. Another 3M engineer, John Borden, invented the famous metal dispenser package that featured the integral, sawtooth cutter blade. Sales of Scotch tape skyrocketed.
29 years after the introduction of Scotch cellophane tape, 3M came out with their “Magic Tape”. The acetate based product boasted of qualities that it wouldn’t yellow and could be written on with pencil or ballpoint. This product remains 3M’s most popular adhesive tape product.
3M went on to include the prefix “Scotch” on a variety of products. Audio and video recording tape was famous to professionals and amatures alike. You may use “Scotchgard” on fabrics and textiles to help guard against staining.