On this day in 1930, 3M unveiled a new invention that would have a pervasive effect on American culture—a roll of clear adhesive film that has come to be known by the seminal brand, Scotch tape. Its inventor, chemical engineer Richard G. Drew, who worked for 3M in St. Paul, MN, reportedly was working on a waterproof covering for parts on refrigerator cars, when he learned that a colleague was proposing that 3M package its adhesive masking tape product in clear cellophane, a material recently developed by DuPont. Drew got a brainstorm. Why not make tape itself out of cellophane? As this article on Drew from Ideafinder.com explains, it turned out to be a lot tougher trick than he probably expected, because applying adhesive evenly on the material was difficult, and it split easy during the machine coating process. Drew had to spend an entire year overcoming these shortcomings, but in the end, he solved the adhesive spreading problem by applying a primer to the tape, and invented a special machine that would handle cellophane without splitting it. He also developed a new, virtually colorless adhesive, which made the product appear virtually invisible to the unaided eye, if took off your glasses and stood far enough away. Originally marketed as Scotch Cellulose Tape, the product was an immediate hit during the Great Depression, in part because it enabled people strapped for cash to mend household items without looking too shabby. It was also easier to apply and nicer looking on packages than string, and was less likely to come undone. The product’s only shortcoming was its own packaging on rolls, which were difficult to cut and peel. Two years later, 3M came out with the first desktop tape dispenser, a cast-iron behemoth that weighed in at seven pounds. It wasn’t until 1940 that the company came out with its iconic lightweight plastic “snail” dispenser, which eventually became a ubiquitous item in American households.