The rubber band was invented 172 years ago by William Spencer. Even though the rubber band was developed and patented in the 19th century, at this point it was mainly used in factories and warehouses, rather than within the common household. This improved thanks to William Spencer of Alliance, Ohio. The story goes, according the Cincinnati Examiner, that in 1923, Spencer noticed the pages of the Akron Beacon Journal, his local newspaper, were constantly being blown across his and his neighbors' lawns. Consequently, he came up with a simple solution for this. As an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad, he realized where to acquire free rubber pieces and discarded inner tubes – from The Goodyear Rubber Company also established in Akron. He cut these pieces into round strips and started to wrap the newspapers with these bands. They were the perfect solution and worked so well that the Akron Beacon Journal bought Spencer's rubbers bands to do the deed themselves. He then proceeded to sell his rubber bands to office supply, newspaper goods, and twine stores across the region, all the while continuing to work at Pennsylvania Railroad (for more than a decade more) while he built his business up.
Spencer also opened the first rubber band factory in Alliance and, then, in 1944 the second one in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1957, he designed and patented the Alliance rubber band, which actually set the world rubber band standard. Today, Alliance Rubber is largest rubber band manufacturer in the world, churning out more than 14 million pounds of rubber bands every year.
Therefore, next time you are shooting a friend with this little elastic device, you can thank William Spencer for the simple, yet amazingly useful rubber band.
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Francine A. Author
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