On July 14th, 1868, 151 years ago today, Alvin Fellows, of New Haven, Connecticut, patented his "new and useful improvement in spring measuring tapes."
Though not the first, Fellows' design is widely regarded as the forerunner of the device used to this day.
Countless instructional videos demonstrate tape measure use, some less-than-obvious. For example, watch Tom Silva, of the PBS show "This Old House," divide a 37 5/8ths-inch board in half without doing the math, just by arbitrarily measuring a 40-inch diagonal:
While in the 1964 movie "Mary Poppins," Julie Andrews found a more fanciful use:
Back in the real world, the National Institute of Standards and Technology certifies tape measure accuracy, with six-foot tapes required to be correct to within a 32nd of an inch.
And so on this day some actually celebrate as National Tape Measure Day, we pose this question: When it comes to using Alvin Fellows' tape, can we honestly say that we measure up?
"How It's Made" took us into the measuring tape factory:
Story produced by Robert Marston.