It’s hard to think about back to school when it’s still steamy outside and the sun seems to beg, like our kids, to stay out late. But here we are: mid-August, school just a few short days or weeks away. As you’re gathering school supplies, consider their histories. Someone invented that crayon sharpener, that ball point pen, whether in a corporate lab or on a messy suburban kitchen table. Here are some of the patents behind our most beloved back-to-school necessities.
Crayon Boxes with a Sharpener
Dull crayons were banished more than 60 years ago, thanks to this 1958 patent for a crayon box with a built-in sharpener. The patent was granted to three employees of Binney & Smith, now known as Crayola LLC, which has been selling crayons since the early 1900s. The 64-color box with the sharpener is so iconic it’s part of the collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.