Rise and fall of the pocket protector


Journal Article

The pocket protector has long been associated with engineers, but to society at large it does not necessarily evoke a positive image. Click to Enlarge ImageMadea credits the 'original pocket protector' to inventor Hurley Smith, who was born in 1908 in Bellaire, Michigan. Smith had no formal schooling but completed high school by correspondence course. After working and saving money, he matriculated at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. He studied electrical engineering at Queens, earning his bachelor's degree in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, and upon graduation had to take a job marketing Popsicles around the province. Smith never claimed to have invented the pocket protector, describing his creation instead as an improved pocket shield, guard or protector. He emphasized instead that his version of the device was, among other things, 'of novel, but exceedingly simple and inexpensive construction' and 'the simplest, lightest and least expensive form of the shield.' He recognized that the open sides of the shield might be seen as a flaw in the design, for the points of pencils and pens leaning sideways could soil or poke through the shirt pocket.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Petroski, H

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 102 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 182 - 185

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-0996

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1511/2014.108.182

Citation Source

  • Scopus