The History of Electrical Tape


What would you do if there was no vinyl electrical tape?

If you’re an electrician or a contractor, life without this sticky companion might sound like a nightmare, but for those living just 100 short years ago it was a reality, because electrical tape simply didn’t exist.

In fact, the vinyl electrical tape that we all know and love came into existence more than 70 years ago, when 3M inventors Snell, Oace, and Eastwold created it and saved electricians from the weak, corrosive and rot-prone tape of yore, which was made of tar-coated cotton with a vulcanized rubber adhesive.

Learn more about the evolution of electrical tape with the timeline below.

  • Scotch Sandpaper

    1902 Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. Opens for Business

    Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. (now known as 3M) establishes itself as a mining operation; sandpaper is their first commercial product.

  • 3M Masking Tape

    1925 Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. Invents Masking Tape

    Now that automobiles are more common, customers demand more color options. Masking part of a car with cloth surgical tape gives auto makers nothing but grief.

  • World War II Demands

    1940s WWII Demands Make Innovation an Absolute Necessity

    World War II spawns many, many innovations in the industrial world that include the invention of PVC, plasticized vinyl.

  • Vinyl Electrical Tape Invention

    1944 3M Pioneer Chemist Esther Eastwold

    One of the 3 scientists credited with the invention of Vinyl Electrical Tape, Esther paves the way with her discovery of an adhesive-friendly plasticizer.

  • Scotch Electrical Tape 33

    1945/46 3M invents Scotch Brand No. 33 Electrical Tape

    3M applies for a patent in January 1946 and No. 33 Tape (originally white or yellow in color) becomes the new standard for insulating electrical connections.

  • Scotch 33 TV Commercial

    1960 Scotch Brand No. 33 is a Household Name

    Ads appear in the Saturday Evening Post and Life magazine; this TV commercial colorfully illustrates just how handy 3M Plastic Vinyl Electrical Tape can be.

  • Scotch Super 33

    1966 3M Scotch Brand No. 33 Tape Becomes "Super"

    3M introduces the new and improved electrical tape "Super 33". Now black for UV resistance, it has a new operating temperature rating up to 176ºF.

  • Scotch Super 33+

    1969 3M Vinyl Electrical Tape Makes the Grade with a PLUS

    3M Vinyl Electrical Tape takes another leap forward to 33 PLUS. It boasts a surprising upper operating temperature rating of 221ºF.

  • Rubber splicing tape

    1975 Making Conforming a Good Thing

    3M launches the 1st highly conformable, all-weather Linerless Rubber Splicing Tape as Scotch® 130C…but don't forget to overwrap with 3M Vinyl Electrical Tape.

  • 33 Tape History

    1976 Continuous Improvement & Regal Family History

    A look at the lineage of Scotch® Super 33+ Vinyl Electrical Tape provides insight into the previous 30 years of improvements.
  • Super 33+ Improvement

    1985 3M improves on Vinyl Electrical Tape Yet Again

    3M sets the standard yet again with the new and improved "Super 33+" vinyl electrical tape that has even greater elasticity.

  • Vinyl Electrical Tape Anniversary

    2016 Happy 70th Birthday Vinyl Electrical Tape!

    3M CELEBRATES their invention of Vinyl Electrical Tape. Tape that transformed the electrical industry almost overnight is definitely worthy of a birthday party!

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