The flat-bottomed paper bag was invented by Margaret E. Knight, who helped break the stereotype that women couldn’t invent things and help change the world.
Whenever Margaret E. Knight worked somewhere, starting at a very young age, she would come up for ideas and inventions to help improve all the companies she worked for.
As a young child she was made to work in dangerous a textile mill where she witnesses a young girl almost get killed by a piece of the machinery coming off at an extensively high speed.
She invented a metal guard and shut-off valve which by the time a year had passed, had been installed to all of the machines in the place she worked.
She then went to work for a Paper Bag Company where she thought of the idea of the flat-bottomed paper bag and then started creating a machine to build paper bags.
Unfortunately a man, Annan, tried to steal her design and applied for a patent to claim the idea as his own. Knight took the case to court as she had been working on it for a very long time and would not allow someone to steal it from her.
In court, Annan defended himself by saying that a woman could not possibly invent such a machine; a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.
In the end, Knight one the battle and was awarded the patent for her sophisticated machine design and formed the Eastern Paper Bag Company with a partner.
The machine did the work of 30 labourers and the paper bags were quickly made, distributed and sold worldwide.
We still use these bags today and with similar machines. Companies such as paper bag co, who create high-quality and customisable bags for businesses of all shapes and sizes, are helping her legacy live on.