From Top Hat to a Case | Tishma Technologies, LLC

From Top Hat to a Case

When you hear the term “cardboard box”, what is the first thing that crosses your mind? Do you recall the last time when you helped a friend move to a new place? Or your does your mind wonders off to the excitement of opening the last order you made on Amazon? Cardboard boxes became a symbol of change, transport, efficiency, and protection. But who is responsible for this simple, yet important innovation, and when did this innovation occur?

Corrugated (also called pleated) paper was patented in England in 1856, and at first it was used as a liner for tall hats. It wasn’t until 20th of December, 1871, when corrugated boxboard was patented and used as a material for shipping containers. A patent for single-sided corrugated board was issued to Albert Jones from New York City who used the corrugated board for wrapping bottles and glass lantern chimneys. Three years later, Oliver Long improved Jones’s design by adding liner sheets on both sides of the corrugated board and that is the design that prevailed until today.

The first machine for producing large quantities of the corrugated board was built in 1874 by G. Smyth, but almost 15 years had to pass from that moment until this new material was used to create a case packaging.

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Credits for this invention go to Robert Gair, who invented the pre-cut cardboard box in 1890. Gair accidentally came to this invention. He was a Brooklyn printer and paper-bag maker during the 1870s, and one day, while he was printing an order of seed bags, a metal ruler which is used to crease bags changed position and cut them. Gair discovered that by cutting and creasing at the same time he could make prefabricated paperboard boxes and this idea was applied to corrugated boxboard when the material became available around the turn of the twentieth century.


In 1915 John Van Wormer of Toledo, Ohio, was granted the patent for the first “paper bottle,” – folded blank box for holding milk he called “Pure-Pak.” Innovation at the time lied in the fact that milk carton could be folded, glued, filled with milk, and sealed at a dairy farm. During the early 1960s, many automated systems were developed, in order to help with the production of repeatable processes.

The rise of lightweight flaked cereals increased the use of cardboard boxes and the first company to use cardboard boxes as cereal cartons was the Kellogg Company.

It is interesting that during all this time Japan was way ahead of Europe and the USA when it comes to the use of cardboard boxes. Japanese silk manufacturers have been using them since 1840 for transporting the Bombyx mori moth and its eggs from Japan to Europe and for more than a century the manufacture of cardboard boxes was a major industry in the area.

Today, cardboard cases are widely used for shipping and stacking of various goods. Close to 100 billion boxes are produced each year in the U.S. Imagine all the time and money that can be saved if each of those boxes was filled by efficient and economical packaging systems! For more on Tishma Technologies case packaging systems, please click here.