Scotch Tape

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scotch Tape
Several packs of Scotch tape, including Magic tape on the right
Product typePressure-sensitive tape
CountrySt. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Introduced1930; 94 years ago (1930)

Scotch Tape is a brand name used for pressure-sensitive tapes developed by 3M. It was first introduced by Richard Drew, who created the initial masking tape under the Scotch brand. The invention of Scotch-brand cellulose tape expanded its applications, making it suitable for sealing packages and conducting item repairs. Over time, Scotch Tape has been utilized in various industries and households for its diverse adhesive solutions.[1]

Antique Scotch brand package
Tape dispenser for Scotch Magic Tape


In 1930, Richard Drew, a 3M engineer, developed the first transparent sticky tape in St. Paul, Minnesota with material known as cellophane.[2] Drew's inspiration came from watching auto-engineers try to achieve smooth paintings on two-color cars. It was in 1925 that he created Scotch masking tape, and later evolved the product to be transparent.[3] In 1932, John A. Borden, also a 3M engineer, built the tape dispenser.[4] During the Great Depression, the versatility and durability of Scotch tape led to a surge in demand, as customers used it to mend household items like books, curtains, clothing, etc.[5] It had industrial applications as well: Goodyear used it to tape the inner supportive ribs of dirigibles to prevent corrosion.[3]

Trade names[edit]

A Scotch brand box sealing tape
Modern Scotch brand acetate[clarification needed] tape packaging showing the distinctive tartan design

Although it is a trademark and a brand name, Scotch tape is sometimes used as a generic term,[6][7] in a similar manner to Sellotape in several other countries. The Scotch brand includes many different constructions (backings, adhesives, etc.) and colors of tape.

The use of the term Scotch in the name was a pejorative meaning "parsimonious" in the 1920s and 1930s. The brand name Scotch came about around 1925 while Richard Drew was testing his first masking tape to determine how much adhesive he needed to add. The bodyshop painter became frustrated with the sample masking tape and exclaimed, "Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!"[8][9] The name was soon applied to the entire line of 3M tapes.

Scotty McTape, a kilt-wearing cartoon boy, was the brand's mascot for two decades, first appearing in 1944.[10] The familiar tartan design, a take on the well-known Wallace tartan, was introduced in 1945.[10]

The Scotch brand, Scotch Tape and Magic Tape are registered trademarks of 3M. Besides using Scotch as a prefix in its brand names (Scotchgard, Scotchlite, and Scotch-Brite), the company also used the Scotch name for its (mainly professional) audiovisual magnetic tape products, until the early 1990s when the tapes were branded solely with the 3M logo.[11] In 1996, 3M exited the magnetic tape business, selling its assets to Quantegy (which is a spin-off of Ampex).

In the late 1960s, the Scotch theme was also applied to 3M's all-weather polyurethane Tartan track and the company's artificial grass, Tartan Turf.

Magic tape[edit]

Magic Tape, also known as Magic Transparent Tape, is a brand within the Scotch Tape family of adhesive tapes made by 3M, sold in distinctive plaid packaging.

Invented and introduced in 1961, it is the original matte finish tape. It appears frosty on the roll, yet is invisible on paper. This quality makes it popular for gift-wrapping.[12] Magic Tape can be written upon with pen, pencil, or marker; comes in permanent and removable varieties; and resists drying out and yellowing.[citation needed]

In Japan, "Magic Tape" is a trademark of Kuraray for a hook-and-loop fastener system similar to Velcro. Instead the katakana version of the word Mending Tape is used, i.e., メンディングテープ, along with the familiar green and yellow tartan branding.


In 1953, Soviet scientists showed that triboluminescence caused by peeling a roll of an unidentified Scotch brand tape in a vacuum can produce X-rays.[13] In 2008, American scientists performed an experiment that showed the rays can be strong enough to leave an X-ray image of a finger on photographic paper.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scotch Tape | MNopedia". Retrieved 18 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Scotch US – History of Scotch Brand – From Tape to Tacky Glue, Laminator Machines and more" (PDF). Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Scotch Transparent Tape - National Historic Chemical Landmark". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  4. ^ inventions, Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered; films, inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years She is known for her independent; documentaries; Alex, including one about; Bellis, er Graham Bell our editorial process Mary. "Meet the Banjo-Playing Engineer Who Invented Scotch Tape". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 3 May 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Matchar, Emily. "How the Invention of Scotch Tape Led to a Revolution in How Companies Managed Employees". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  6. ^ Genericide: When a Brand Name Becomes Generic. Age of Persuasion: CBC Radio, 7 May 2011
  7. ^ 15 Product Trademarks That Have Become Victims Of Genericization. Consumer Reports, 19 July 2014
  8. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Archive". Archived from the original on 3 April 2003. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  9. ^ Bellis, Mary. "The History of Scotch Tape". Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Scotch 75th Anniversary – The Tale of the Tape – Mad about Plaid". Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  11. ^ "The Use of Metal and Plastic Reels with "Scotch" Sound Recording Tape" (PDF). Sound Talk. 3M. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  12. ^ An even less visible descendant of Magic Tape, Scotch GiftWrap Tape, was introduced in 1997.
  13. ^ Karasev, V. V., Krotova, N. A. & Deryagin, B. W. Study of electronic emission during the stripping of a layer of high polymer from glass in a vacuum. (in Russian) Dokl. Akad. Nauk. SSSR 88, 777–780 (1953).
  14. ^ Camara C. G., Escobar J. V., Hird J. R. and Putterman S. J., Correlation between nanosecond X-ray flashes and stick–slip friction in peeling tape, Nature 455, 1089–1092 (23 October 2008)

External links[edit]