The first known stapler was made in the 18th century in France for King Louis XV. Each staple was inscribed with the insignia of the royal court, as required. The growing uses of paper in the 19th century created a demand for an efficient paper fastener.
In 1877 Henry R. Heyl filed patent number 195,603 for the first machines to both insert and clinch a staple in one step, and for this reason some consider him the inventor of the modern stapler. In 1876 and 1877 Heyl also filed patents for the Novelty Paper Box Manufacturing Co of Philadelphia,PA, However, the N. P. B. Manufacturing Co.’s inventions were to be used to staple boxes and books.
The first machine to hold a magazine of many pre-formed staples came out in 1878.
On February 18, 1879, George McGill received patent 212,316 for the McGill Single-Stroke Staple Press, the first commercially successful stapler. This device weighed over two and a half pounds and loaded a single 1/2 inch wide wire staple, which it could drive through several sheets of paper.
The first published use of the word “stapler” to indicate a machine for fastening papers with a thin metal wire was in an advertisement in the American Munsey’s Magazine in 1901.
In the early 1900s, several devices were developed and patented that punched and folded papers to attach them to each other without a metallic clip. The Clipless Stand Machine (made in North Berwick) sold from 1909 into the 1920s. It cut a tongue in the paper that it folded back and tucked in. Bump’s New Model Paper Fastener used a similar cutting and weaving technology.
Modern staplers continue to evolve and adapt to the changing habits of users. Less-effort, or easy-squeeze / use staplers, for example, make use of different leverage efficiencies to reduce the amount of force the user need apply. As a result, these staplers tend to be used in work environments where repetitive, large stapling jobs are routine.
Some modern desktop staplers make use of Flat Clinch technology. With Flat Clinch staplers, the staple legs first pierce the paper and are then bent over and pressed absolutely flat against the paper doing away with the two-setting anvil commonly used and making use of a recessed stapling base in which the legs are folded. Accordingly, staples do not have sharper edges exposed and lead to flatter stacking of paper saving on filing and binder space
In 2012, $80 million worth of staplers were sold in the US. The dominant US manufacturer is Swingline.
In fact, a red Swingline stapler was one of the stars of the 1999 movie Office Space. At a company called Initech, long-suffering Milton constantly has his Swingline “taken back” – a running gag throughout the film, including at the end when the main character Peter (Ron Livingston) finds the charred remains of Milton’s beloved stapler after a fire destroys Initech HQ.