Archive for September 1st, 2013

September 1, 2013


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.

When the product turned out to be unsuccessful as wallpaper,  Fielding and Chavannes 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 (a company founded by Fielding and Chavannes) , 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.

Sealed Air now sells around $400 million worth of Bubble Wrap annually.