Patent of the Month November
Essential office mate with uncertain future - the paper puncher
Returning to the workplace from home-office, you notice an old acquaintance, the paper punch, which no desk should be lacking. Since its invention 135 years ago, the paper punch has become indispensable for organizing and filing in everyday office and academic life. It is likely that his star will be falling in the paperless office of the future.
Therefore, we celebrate the anniversary of the constant office assistant by choosing patent DE 40065 filed with the German Imperial Patent Office on 14 November 1886, under "Paper punch for folders, letter files and the like" as our Patent of the month November!
The invention of the first mechanical paper punch is as simple as it is ingenious. According to the patent specification, one or more sheets of paper are punched at a defined distance by means of cutting pins which are "brought into connection with the pressure bracket (b) and hung loosely in the guide heads (c) and (c')". Once the perforation is complete, the cutting pins are returned to their original position by springs. This invention has accompanied people in their everyday life - since then, practically all paper punches have worked using the principle developed by Soennecken! However, differences occur in the spacing and number of holes. To ensure uniformity - so that the perforated sheets also fit into the folders - standards have been developed. The most common dimensions for hole size and spacing are described in the international standard ISO 838. The holes have a diameter of 6±0.5 mm. The hole centres are 80±0.5 mm apart and 12±1 mm from the paper edge, with the hole centre in the middle of the paper edge.
Friedrich Soennecken was born in 1848 in what is now Iserlohn in the Sauerland. In 1875, he founded a trading company in Remscheid, where he first designed a new type of writing pen and developed the easy-to-learn round script, the model for today's cursive script. With a package of writing tool and multilingual text- and exercise books for writing beginners, his company achieved global market success. The rapid economic development of industrialisation required more efficient administrative and organisational structures in the offices of the new corporate empires. Soennecken recognised the demand and developed the corresponding products. The paper punch was developed as a complementary product to the file folder, another invention of the enterprising tinkerer and businessman.
Friedrich Soennecken's career is a success story of the Gründerzeit and an example for the innovative spirit of the 1870s: He identified potential for improvement, developed innovative solutions and conquered the international market with the resulting products. The company portfolio of 1890 was listing 150 items that could be ordered. In 1913 alone, Soennecken sent 72,000 parcels as far as Australia and India via export branches in Berlin, Leipzig, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Paris. From the son of a craftsman to a successful owner of a global company, he was honoured for his inventions at the World's Fair in Brussels in 1910.
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