When was the ball point pen invented? What about paper clips, or fax machines? Vic Hollefruend, our Retail Furniture Manager, is on the case, researching and compiling everything you would want to know about who, where, why, when, and how of office supplies. We are pleased to present Vic’s History of Office Stuff.
The closet of the loose leaf paper world is the ring binder. It was believed to be invented in 1886 by German entrepreneur and inventor Friedrich Soennecken who was looking to tidy things up. That same year, the Bonn native also patented another invention, the hole punch. Soennecken was a known office supplier in his town. The image of the ring binder was later incorporated to his logo, symbolizing his love for office supplies and innovation.
The ring binder was also modified by another German entrepreneur, Louis Leitz, whose office supply company, Leitz, introduced the lever arch file. Leitz’s file is characterized by a hole in the side.
The loose-leaf paper patent was filed in 1854 in the U.S., and as time went by, people realized that even though it was convenient to have loose-leaf paper, it was sometimes difficult to organize it. They realized that when they purchased paper already in notebooks, they didn’t need to worry about filing the paper. So in the same year, patents were filed for both the 2-ring and 3-ring binders by Henry T. Sisson of Providence, Rhode Island. Sisson recognized the need to be able to protect pages and although he was not yet exactly sure how to fix the problem he spent the next few years perfecting his design.
Even though the patent for the 2 and 3 ring binders was filed in the mid-1850s, it would take until 1899 for a binder to be available for purchase. The Chicago Binder and File Company was one of the first companies to offer a binder for sale. In the beginning, companies sold 2 ring binders but eventually found that 3 ring binders did a better job of holding papers in place.
Materials and Design
The first 3-ring binders were covered with a heavy cardboard-like binding. This differs from many binders today, which are made of plastic.
The metal parts that opened to allow people to place paper into the binder were made of cold rolled steel then the metal was nickel-plated and highly polished.
The 3-ring binder has not changed much in size in its 100+ years of existence. The size of a binder depends on the size of the paper it is designed to hold. Most 3-ring binders are about 12 inches tall and about 10 inches wide when closed. This size has stayed the same because the size of loose-leaf letter-size paper has always been somewhere around 8.5-by-11 inches.
The amount of paper that a person wants to place inside a 3-ring binder has always depended on the size of the rings inside the binder. A 3-ring binder has been created with several different sizes of rings. The smallest rings in 3-ring binders are about 1/2 inch, while the largest ring binders are 3 inches in diameter.
In the years that followed, binders came out with both “O” ring and “D” ring mechanisms. The “D” ring binder allowed both the binder and the paper to lay open flat on a table.
So it would seem 3 ring binders and other assorted loose-leaf binders have become the dependable and irreplaceable workhorses for personal use, sales, school, and business organizations. And, in case you wondered, the future still looks bright even though we are in immersed in an age where virtual binders appear to be prolific; apparently there is no substitute for good old fashion paper organized into a book.