Trivia

Hard

Bubble Wrap Was Originally Invented To Serve As What?

Satellite Liner
Insulation
Mattress Padding
Wallpaper
A sheet of clear bubble wrap.
Moja/Wikimedia

Answer: Wallpaper

Bubble wrap is about as ubiquitous and recognizable as any shipping material could ever hope to be—which is ironic because bubble wrap started life as, of all things, wallpaper.

In 1957, inventors Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes invented bubble wrap by sealing two clear shower curtains together, trapping a pattern of bubbles between the two sheets of plastic. Their vision for the product? Wallpaper.

Throughout the late 1950s and into the 1960s, there was a bit of a funky-wall-covering-craze and people were adorning their walls with all manner of things like bamboo, highly textured fabrics, and other materials. The two engineers sought to capitalize on this and marketed the early bubble wrap designs as wallpaper.

The idea never caught on and the two of them started marketing it as greenhouse insulation. Although bubble wrap is clear and fairly good at insulating, they failed to make a go of bubble wrap as a commercially successful greenhouse insulator.

It wasn’t until marketer Frederick Bowers pitched the idea of bubble wrap as shipping protection to IBM that the company and their soon-to-be iconic product found a niche. IBM was the first bubble wrap customer; they packed their new line of 1401 Data Processing System units in bubble wrap before crating the machines up.

Since then, bubble wrap has made appearances in everything from padded mailing envelopes to insulation panels along with a slew of creative DIY solutions and creations.

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