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November 17th, 2012

This wallpaper pops!

Mental Floss is pretty great. I learn a lot from the site on a regular basis. But I cannot say I was more surprised by a fact they learned me than this:

Bubble Wrap Was Originally Supposed to be Wallpaper

Wait… whaa?!!!


In 1957, engineer Al Fielding and Swiss inventor Marc Chavannes were trying to create a textured wallpaper. To do so, they sealed two shower curtains together in such a way that air bubbles were captured, giving the wallpaper a textured appearance.

But the wallpaper idea didn’t sell too well. Undeterred, Fielding and Chanvannes decided to market their invention as greenhouse insulation. Though the material did offer somewhat of an insulating effect, this idea didn’t pan out popularly, either.

It wasn’t until three years after the origination of their invention that Frederick W. Bowers, a marketer at Sealed Air, which made the product, finally came up with the perfect use for it. On October 5, 1959, IBM had announced their new 1401 variable word length computer. Bowers got the idea that Bubble Wrap could be used as a good packaging material to protect the computer while it was being shipped. He pitched the idea to IBM and demonstrated Bubble Wrap’s protective abilities. His demonstration went over well, and IBM began purchasing Bubble Wrap to protect their 1401 and other fragile products they sold and shipped.

Can you imagine if the original idea had taken off? What might our walls today (or, at least, walls of the 1960s) would look like? And sound like?

Posted in Just Plain Odd

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