Have you ever had the talk with your friends about: if you could choose to invent something, what it would be? I know I have.

This is the beginning of a real interesting conversation about technologies and society, and where it is headed, technologically speaking. From the invention of the wheel to the invention of spaceships and beyond. Besides the obvious side of things, which is the contribution to society (at least in my conversations), there is always the monetary incentive, which drives almost every inventor these days.

At this point of the conversation, I always come to same answer: I would choose to invent the toilet paper!!!

There isn’t a modern society today that do not consume large, almost infinite, quantities of toilet paper per year. So, I guess I won’t be doing my millions in toilet paper. But who has?

Meet Arthur Hoyt Scott, born in Pennsylvania, USA, on March 16th 1875. Discover my surprise when I found out that he was born on the same date I was born, just about 100 years before. He is formally the inventor of the throw-away paper towel. 

Not only he invented the toilet paper as we use it today, more than 100 year later, but he is the beginning of a very fruitful industry that is still developing today.

Searching for patents in this field brought to my attention very interesting facts. The number of patent applications in the technologies related, directly or indirectly, to the toilet paper have been increasing greatly in the last two decades (see graph below).

The main players in this field are Procter and Gamble™ and Kimberly Clark™. Which is not surprising since both are main players in the field of personal care products.

The surprising thing is that the mayor jurisdiction for this patents applications is China. That might be due to the fact that the production of said personal products is actually done in China.

Another interesting aspect of this data is that in a world that supposedly is going for more “green” technology, respecting the environment, reducing the usage of trees in order to avoid the increase of carbon-dioxide in the air - the technologies surrounding the toilet paper industry seem to be only increasing and developing. Just to provide a small example of what I am talking about, here are numbers regarding the sales of toilet paper, in millions of dollars (!!!):

In a world where one day there might be no more fuel-based cars, have superb nanocomputers and space travelling won’t be a dream anymore, toilet paper seems will be a constant – until somebody invents a suitable replacement for it. Therefore, we should remember those who contributed to the shape of society as we know it today – people like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Alexander Fleming and, of course Arthur Hoyt Scott.

Comment