A Brief Look at the History of Corrugated Boxes

Most people take corrugated boxes for granted, but it’s hard to consider a world without them. Today, these types of boxes are used for a number of applications, from storing to shipping, but where did the corrugated cardboard box come from? Let’s take a brief look at its history.

Thick Paper

The start of the corrugated box is the invention of paper in the second century. According to studies, paper was created by a Chinese inventor by the name of Ts’ai Lun. China is also home to the first known appearance of cardboard, which was simply classified as thick paper when it was first introduced in the 1600s. Although China didn’t use cardboard to make boxes, it used it as a packaging material for the transportation of goods.

Corrugated Cardboard

The very first cardboard box was introduced in 1817, but they weren’t the same corrugated boxes that we know today. They were introduced to the world by British industrialist Sir Malcolm Thornhill. He invited them from a simple, single layer of cardboard. Corrugated cardboard wouldn’t be seen until 1856, when British inventors Edward Healey and Edward Allen put a new spin on Thornhill’s design by using multiple layers of cardboard and a corrugated piece in the center for strength.

The Corrugated Box

While Healey and Allen invented corrugated cardboard, they weren’t the first to use it to make boxes. Nearly 15 years later, a New York industrialist by the name of Albert Jones took corrugated cardboard to the United States and was granted a patent to use it in the packaging of goods. Jones didn’t invent the corrugated box, but his work brought it to the attention of a man named Oliver Long. It was Long who came up with the idea of attaching multiple corrugated cardboard pieces together to form a box. By 1890, Long’s idea was in general use around the country.

The Evolution of the Corrugated Box

Today, corrugated boxes are used by the general public to ship and store all types of goods because they’re affordable and strong. When they first came out, though, corrugated boxes were viewed as a more expensive method to transport goods. Due to this, these types of boxes were only used in the transportation of high-end goods that were breakable. Over time, the corrugated box became more commonplace.

It’s hard to believe that the invention of the corrugated box can be traced all the way back to the invention of paper in ancient China. While it went through many transformations to become the packaging material we know today, one thing is for sure: Corrugated boxes have changed our world for the better.

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