Developed in Chicago, Illinois in 1902, it didn’t take very long at all for business owners to see the value of window envelopes
, and for good reason; window envelopes saved companies time and money when used for invoices, paychecks, and accounts payable.
Window envelopes were initially developed with just one window, the window for the addressee. In time, companies realized that they were saving so much money that they clamored for the next innovation – the double window envelope, where the manufacturer added a window for the return address information.
In the dawn of the 20th century, it was a labor intensive process every time an invoice, a/p check, or paycheck needed to be mailed out.
The secretary placed the document into a manual typewriter, typed the document, removed the typed document from the typewriter, and double checked it for accuracy. Heaven help the poor soul if she needed to correct a typographical error –that was a whole new process which we won’t even get into here! She then needed to insert an envelope into the typewriter, type the return address, type the mailing address, remove the envelope, and again check for accurate typing.
Can you imagine repeating this process of hand typing each document and envelope without the aid of a word processor?
The inventor of the window envelope, Americus F. Callahan, realized that there was surely a better way to manage this process. Callahan applied for the patent
to the “outlook envelope” in 1901 and received his patent on June 10, 1902.
There have been a few changes to the window envelope since its invention. Initially, the window was made out of a thin sheet of rice paper; today of course we use thin plastic. The initial envelope was made from manila paper; today we have a staggering variety of paper from which to choose.
Business owners in the early 1900s were startled, amazed, and pleased with what this simple and well thought innovation did to save money for their businesses. They saved money by increased typing accuracy, less labor, and less money spent on postage due to re-mailing misaddressed envelopes. They had happier vendors, who received payments faster. They used less ink and typing corrective fluid, decreasing material costs. They loved the new window envelopes.
The same things that made the double window envelope
such an innovation back then, still apply today. The window envelope saves companies labor, time, ink, and paper, helping businesses remain efficient and watch their bottom line.
In our fast paced world, we may chuckle at the thought of those businessmen calling the ubiquitous envelope an “innovation.” But the fact remains that this century old invention, the window envelope, was so perfect in concept that it remains virtually unchanged today.