News, Culture & Society

Hole punch history celebrated in a Google Doodle

The Google Doodle for November 14th celebrates the history of the hole punch, on the office stationery item’s 131st birthday.

The history of the hole puncher

Appropriately, for an office item that punches two holes in paper, the hole puncher history is a story of twos. Two German inventors, Matthias Theel and Friedrich Soennecken, filed their patents in the late 1800s. Around the same time, in 1885, an American inventor called Benjamin Smith invented a spring-loaded single hole punch and called it a ‘conductor’s punch’. And in 1893, Charles Brooks patented a paper punch he called a ‘ticket punch’.

However, the latest Google Doodle is celebrating Soennecken and his 14th November 1886 Papierlocher für Sammelmappen (paper hole maker for binding) patent that has become, as the Google Doodle describes, ‘an understated – but essential – artifact of German engineering.’

The first Google Doodle was made by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1998

Who is Friedrich Soennecken? 

Friedrich Soennecken was an inventor and entrepreneur who founded the Soennecken German office supplier in 1875. Soennecken products and tools quickly became very popular, even making their way into the hands of the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who in 1888 rewrote a whole manuscript using a Soennecken Rundschrift Number 5, after a printer said his previous text was unreadable.

As well as submitting a patent for the hole puncher on 14th November 1886, Soennecken is also credited with inventing the ring binder to use to sort the hole-punched paper. However, his main invention is the rounded form of calligraphy writing and the pen nib associated with it.

What is a Google Doodle?

A Google Doodle is a term used to describe any decorations made to the Google logo on its homepage. The very first Google Doodle was made in 1998 and was just a stick figure drawn behind the second ‘o’ of Google. It was drawn by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to mark their trip to that year’s Burning Man Festival.

Once it became clear that people really enjoyed frequent changes to the Google homepage, the Google Doodle became a daily celebration of cultural events.

Today, there is a team of ‘Doodlers’ – illustrators, graphic designers, animators and artists who create Google Doodles. The logos are hyperlinked to provide readers with more information. The latest Google Doodle, commemorating the 131st anniversary of the hole puncher, was created by artist Gerben Steenks.