When Johann Vaaler patented his paper clip in 1901, there already were similar designs on the books. William Middlebrook of Waterbury, Connecticut patented his design in 1899. Cornelius Brosnan of Springfield, Massachusetts patented his Konaclip in 1900.
So, who was first to invent the paper clip?
Well, it is thought to be Johann Vaaler. Drawings of his design date to early 1899, but since Norway had no patent law at the time he had to seek patent rights in Germany and the US in the following years.
Johann Vaaler was born on 15 March 1866 in Aurskog, Norway. Known as an innovator in his youth, he graduated in electronics, science and mathematics. He was employed by the owner of an invention office when he invented the paper clip in 1899.
Several designs followed the original. Only a few remain, such as the Ideal, Non-Skid, Owl and Gem. The first double-oval clip, the Gem, was launched in early-1900 by Gem Manufacturing Ltd of England. The paper clip remains as one of the most-used items of all time.