Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven, Connecticut made the lives of carpenters, electricians, seamstresses and countless other tradesmen and craftsmen easier when his patent for “Improvements in Tape Measures” was granted. His patent was dated July 14, 1868. Enter the generation of retractable tape measures.
The first recorded use of the tape measure goes back to the Romans, utilizing marked strips of leather. Before Fellows’ patent, Englishman James Chesterman designed a steel measuring tape, but it was expensive for its time. At $17 in 1853, it was equivalent to $300 in today’s U.S. dollars and too big to fit in a pocket or toolbox.