Inventions: Can opener

The can opener was invented 45 years(!) after the can.

 While preservation of food using tin cans had been practiced since at least 1772, it was until 1810 when inventor Peter Durand received a patent from King George III for the world's first can made of iron and tin. Early cans were produced using heavy metal sheets and were opened by brute force. The age old "smash it with a hammer and chisel" technique was commonplace. Not the best method in the world for keeping one's food un-mashed, but nevertheless got the job done.

As the production rate of tin cans was improved, i.e. more cans were produced in less time, and can manufacturers started using thinner metal sheets, it was clear that the world needed a new invention: The Can Opener.

The first can opener was patented only in 1855 in England - 45 years after the can's patent. The openers were basically variations of a knife, and the 1855 design continues to be produced. The first can opener consisting of the now familiar sharp rotating cutting wheel, which travels around the can's ring slicing open the lid, was invented in 1870 but people found it difficult to operate. A breakthrough came in 1925 when a second, serrated wheel was added to hold the cutting wheel on the ring of the can. This easy to use design has become one of the most popular can opener models.

Source(s): Wikipedia, Today I Found Out
Photo: Alyson Hurt


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