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1.26.2006 

genius of the week


thanks to janet for pointing out the fantasticness of straws, and the important place they hold in our daily lives...

In 1888, Marvin Stone patented the spiral winding process to manufacture the first paper drinking straws. Stone was already a manufacturer of paper cigarette holders. His idea was to make paper drinking straws. Before his straws, beverage drinkers were using the natural rye grass straws.

Stone made his prototype straw by winding strips of paper around a pencil and gluing it together. He then experimented with paraffin-coated manila paper, so the straws would not become soggy while someone was drinking. Marvin Stone decided the ideal straw was 8 1/2-inches long with a diameter just wide enough to prevent things like lemon seeds from being lodged in the tube.

The product was patented on January the 3rd, 1888. By 1890, his factory was producing more straws than cigarette holders. In 1906, the first machine was invented by the Stone's "Stone Straw Corporation" to machine-wind straws, ending the hand-winding process. Later other kinds of spiral-wound paper and non-paper products were made.

In 1928, electrical engineers began to use spiral-wound tubes in the first mass produced radios. All made by the same process invented by Stone. Spiral-wound tubing is now found everywhere -- in electric motors, electrical apparatus, electronic devices, electronic components, aerospace, textile, automotive, fuses, batteries, transformers, pyrotechnics, medical packaging, product protection, and packaging applications.

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