PUNCH ABOVE ITS WEIGHT Hole punch history – 131st anniversary celebrated with a Google Doodle: here is the essential office tool through the ages


IT’S as much an office staple as, well, a stapler — and with one satisfying clunk can turn a pile of disordered sheets into a crisp, neat stack ready for the binder.

But as with many seemingly simple devices, the humble hole puncher — which turns 131 years old on Tuesday — is recognised as a masterpiece of mechanical design and efficiency. Here’s its history.

When was the hole puncher invented?

The first patent for a hole puncher, or Papierlocher für Sammelmappen (paper hole maker for binding) was filed on 14 November 1886 by inventor Friedrich Soennecken.

Mr Soennecken was a German office supplier from the town of Remscheid who founded his own company, F Soennecken Verlag, in 1875.

His wares quickly became renowned for their quality, and his paper and pens were a favourite of German philosopher Freidrich Neitzsche, the man who coined the phrase: “What does not kill me makes me stronger”.

As well as inventing the hole puncher, Mr Soennecken created the ring binder to store the freshly punched sheets and a style of calligraphy designed to be neat yet standardised and easy to learn.

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The hole puncher’s design has not changed much in the 131 years since its invention.

It uses a lever and spring system to allow the user to line up and punch holes with cylindrical blades through stacked sheets of paper with ease. The longer the lever, the more sheets of paper can be punched through with the same minimal force.

Later adaptations would incorporate a reservoir in the base to help collect the circular confetti left behind by the process.

These days, the standard international measurement ISO 838 is the most common in double-hole punchers.

But single-hole punchers are also regularly used for a variety of jobs, like validating tickets or marking used playing cards before they are binned.

The design has also been scaled up to large machines that can punch through hundreds of sheets at once for use in the printing industry.

nintchdbpict000366663573What is a Google Doodle?

In 1998, the search engine founders Larry and Sergey drew a stick figure behind the second ‘o’ of Google as a message to that they were out of office at the Burning Man festival and with that, Google Doodles were born.

The company decided that they should decorate the logo to mark cultural moments and it soon became clear that users really enjoyed the change to the Google homepage.

In that same year, a turkey was added to Thanksgiving and two pumpkins appeared as the ‘o’s for Halloween the following year.

Now, there is a full team of doodlers, illustrators, graphic designers, animators and classically trained artists who help create what you see on those days.


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