All of you must have come across that bubbly sheet at one point of time. Fragile things often come packed in it, and children and adults like to blow those bubbles with same enthusiasm. The bubble wraps, as they are called, provide safety for the things by cushioning them from impacts. These kinds of things are those we take for granted, seemingly irrelevant but play significant roles in our daily lives.
Like with a fair number of inventions, bubble wrap was supposed to serve an entirely different purpose. It was invented by two engineers named Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in 1958. They were actually attempting to create three-dimensional wallpaper while they made the bubble wrap.
What they did was a simple thing. They sealed two shower curtains together in such a way that air bubbles were captured. It gave the wallpaper a textured appearance. But contrary to the inventors’ hopes this idea of wallpapers failed to make an interest in the market. However, the two inventors found another use for their product, and decided to market it as greenhouse insulation. Though the material provided some kind of an insulating effect, this idea didn’t connect with the customers either.
It took a couple of years for the product to find itself a relevant use. And, it was the idea of Frederick W. Bowers, a marketer at Sealed Air, a company co-founded by Fielding. It was then the IT giant IBM introduced their new 1401 variable word length computer. Bowers was consumed by the idea that Bubble Wrap could be used as a good packaging material to protect the computer during the shipment. He presented his idea to IBM and demonstrated the advantages of using Bubble Wrap to cover the computers. Satisfied with Bower’s presentation, IBM began purchasing Bubble Wrap to cover their 1401 and other fragile products they manufactured. The new use of bubble wrap became extremely popular and many companies came forward to use the product to protect their products.
Bubble Wrap is now a generic trademark owned by Sealed Air Corporation. The bubbles on the sheet come in various shapes, even that of heart. There is even an International Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, observed on the last Monday of January. Believe it or not, the annual sale of bubble wrap is worth $400 million.
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