National Tape Measure Day

A person holding a tape measure with a determined look, wearing a toolbelt, construction site background..
National tape measure day illustration

Welcome to National Tape Measure Day! Grab your trusty companion and get ready to measure your way to success. On this special day, we celebrate the handy tool that helps us keep things in check, literally. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast, a professional builder, or just someone who loves to see how big stuff is, the tape measure is your loyal partner. So let's unravel the history and significance of this amazing invention, and maybe even uncover a few surprising facts along the way.

When is Tape Measure Day?

It's national tape measure day on the 14th July.

A Measuring Marvel

Imagine a world without tape measures. Chaos would ensue! People would be wandering around with their arms outstretched, trying to estimate the length of everything from walls to furniture. Thankfully, we don't have to live in that nightmare world. We owe a debt of gratitude to the ingenious invention that is the tape measure.

The earliest form of a measuring tape can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The Egyptians, for example, used a variant made of rope with markings on it. This allowed them to measure land, construct buildings, and even create elaborate irrigation systems.

But it wasn't until the 19th century that the humble tape measure as we know it today came into existence. A man by the name of Alvin J. Fellows, an enterprising American, is credited with inventing the retractable tape measure in 1868. And just like that, a tool for precise measurement was born.

Unraveling Fun Facts

Did you know that tape measures come in different lengths? The most common ones you'll find in your local hardware store are 12 feet or 25 feet long. However, there are super-sized tape measures that can stretch out to a whopping 100 feet! That's one tape measure you don't want to accidentally lose somewhere.

History behind the term 'Tape Measure'


Invention of the spring tape measure

The first step in the history of the tape measure dates back to 1829, when the spring tape measure was invented by a British polymath named James Chesterman. This innovative tool consisted of a long ribbon of flexible metal that could be wound into a compact case. It featured a spring mechanism that allowed for easy extension and retraction of the tape, making it convenient for measuring various objects and distances.


Improvement with lockable retractable tape

The next significant step occurred in 1868, when a New Haven, Connecticut resident named Alvin J. Fellows patented an improvement to the tape measure design. Fellows introduced a lockable retractable tape that could be extended and secured at a desired length. This enhancement greatly enhanced the functionality and accuracy of the tape measure, making it more reliable for precise measurements.


Introduction of the modern steel tape measure

In 1922, Hiram A. Farrand introduced the modern steel tape measure. This version replaced the previous flexible metal ribbons with a steel tape that was more durable and resistant to stretching. The steel tapes featured easy-to-read markings for precise measurements and were encased in a retractable housing. Farrand's steel tape measure quickly gained popularity due to its improved strength and reliability.


Introduction of the imperial and metric tape measures

By the 1940s, tape measures were available in various units of measurement. A significant step was the introduction of both imperial (inch/foot) and metric tape measures. This development allowed users to choose between different measuring systems, catering to both American and international markets. This adaptation of tape measures for different measurement standards further expanded their utility and widespread use.


Advancement with self-marking tape measures

In the 1950s, self-marking tape measures emerged, revolutionizing the efficiency of measurements. These innovative tape measures featured a built-in marker or pencil holder, allowing users to mark directly on the tape while measuring. This eliminated the need for a separate writing tool and made marking measurements much more convenient, particularly in construction and carpentry work.


Digital tape measures and laser measuring devices

The 1980s saw the introduction of digital tape measures and laser measuring devices. Digital tape measures displayed measurements on a small screen, providing quick and accurate readings. Laser measuring devices, on the other hand, used laser technology to precisely calculate distances by reflecting a laser beam off a target. These advancements further streamlined the measuring process, particularly in fields such as architecture and engineering.

Did you know?

Despite its name, a tape measure doesn't have to be made of tape. Some modern tape measures now use durable materials like steel or fiberglass, ensuring accuracy and longevity.


fun property

First identified

14th July 2015

Most mentioned on

14th July 2017

Total mentions


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