Who Invented the Stapler?

Whether it’s for binding reports, securing documents, or simply keeping papers organized, the stapler’s utility is undeniable.

But have you ever stopped to consider where this handy device came from? Who was the genius that invented the stapler, and how did it evolve to become the tool we know today?

In this article, we’ll explore the interesting history of the stapler, tracing its origins from ancient paper fastening methods to the sleek, efficient device that sits on desks around the world.

Also, see Who Invetend Tongs? to learn more.

What were the first attempts to fasten paper? See below

Early Attempts at Paper Fastening

Long before the modern stapler was invented, people had the need to fasten sheets of paper together.

One of the earliest known methods of paper fastening dates back to the 13th century, when people used wax seals to bind documents.

However, these seals were often impractical for everyday use due to their fragility.

In the 16th century, a more durable solution was found in the form of hand-sewn binding, but this method was labor-intensive and time-consuming.

As the need for a more efficient way to fasten paper grew, inventors began to experiment with metal fasteners.

One early version of a stapler was the “staple press,” which used metal clamps to bind documents.

However, these early devices were often cumbersome and expensive.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the first true stapler, as we know it today, was invented.

This marked a significant milestone in the history of paper fastening, as it paved the way for the development of the modern stapler.

Who was George McGill? See below

The Birth of the Stapler: George McGill

The modern stapler owes its existence to the innovative mind of George McGill, an American inventor who, in 1866, patented a small, bendable brass paper fastener that was a precursor to the modern staple.

But McGill didn’t stop there. He continued to refine his invention, and in 1867, he received a patent for a press to insert the fastener into paper.

This device was the earliest version of what would become the stapler.

McGill’s invention was a revelation. It made it possible to fasten papers together quickly and efficiently, and it was immediately embraced by businesses, government offices, and anyone else who dealt with large quantities of paperwork.

McGill’s early stapler was a single-shot device that required the user to reload after each staple, but it paved the way for future improvements.

Over time, McGill’s invention evolved. In 1879, he introduced a more advanced version of his stapler that could hold a strip of staples, eliminating the need to reload after each use.

This was a significant improvement, making the stapler even more efficient and user-friendly.

The stapler’s design continued to evolve over the years, with various inventors contributing to its development.

However, it was George McGill who laid the foundation for the modern stapler, transforming the way we fasten paper and streamlining office work.

Today, the stapler is an indispensable tool in offices, schools, and homes around the world, and it all started with McGill’s pioneering invention.

How has the stapler changed over time? See below

Evolution of the Stapler: From McGill to Modern-Day

The journey of the stapler from its inception to the present day has been marked by constant innovation and improvement.

After George McGill’s pioneering invention in the late 1800s, the stapler has undergone numerous transformations, adapting to the changing needs of its users.

In the early 1900s, staplers became more practical and user-friendly with the introduction of the strip stapler.

Unlike McGill’s single-shot device, the strip stapler could hold a strip of staples, allowing users to staple multiple sheets of paper without reloading.

This was a significant advancement in the history of the stapler, and it set the stage for the development of the modern stapler.

The mid-20th century saw the rise of the Swingline stapler, a brand that has become synonymous with stapling.

In 1950, Swingline introduced a revolutionary stapler that allowed users to refill staples without disassembling the stapler. This design made reloading staples easier than ever before, and it quickly became the industry standard.

Today, staplers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, catering to different needs. From the iconic desktop stapler to the heavy-duty electric stapler, there’s a stapler for every purpose.

In addition to traditional metal staples, some modern staplers use adhesive tape or other mechanisms to fasten paper, offering a more eco-friendly option.

Despite the digital revolution, staplers remain an essential tool in offices, schools, and homes around the world.

The stapler has come a long way since George McGill’s first invention, but its core function remains the same: to fasten sheets of paper together quickly and securely.

As technology continues to evolve, the stapler will likely adapt and change, but its role as a reliable and efficient tool for fastening paper is here to stay.


The history of the stapler is a testament to human ingenuity and the constant drive to improve everyday objects.

From George McGill’s initial invention to the convenient and efficient staplers we use today, the journey of the stapler is an inspiring one.

It reflects our desire to create tools that make our lives easier and more organized.

Whether we’re at home, at school, or in the office, the stapler remains an indispensable part of our lives, helping us keep our documents and ideas together.

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