Cardboard boxes are made up of thick, heavy, sturdy paper that is commonly known as cardboard. Box types vary from cereal boxes to storage boxes, to packaging boxes and food boxes. The cardboard box is widely used around the world. Here we look at the history of cardboard and corrugated cardboard boxes and how they came to be;


  • 1817- The first cardboard box was made in England, by a man named Sir Malcolm Thornhill. The box wasn’t what we associate nowadays with ‘packaging’ boxes but rather resembled more of a shoebox. But his idea was to make a box using single sheets of cardboard. However, as a result, they were rather laborious to create, but that didn’t make them any less popular.
  • 1840 – silk manufacturers started using cardboard boxes to transport moths and their eggs from Japan to Europe
  • 1850 – the cardboard box went mainstream because the Kellogg Company started using it for their cereal packaging.
  • 1856corrugated cardboard was invented. Two Englishmen, Edward C. Healy and Edward E. Allen patented corrugated cardboard, its purpose was to line the inside of hats.
  • 1871 – American Albert L. Jones patented the single-sided corrugated board which was used by the packaging industry to wrap around fragile items such as bottles and glass lanterns.
  • 1890 – Robert Gair, a printer and paper bag manufacturer in Brooklyn, America, accidentally invented the pre-cut cardboard box when he was supposed to be printing paper bags in 1890. The mistake happened when he accidentally shifted the metal ruler that was used to crease the bags and as a result cut the bags. Gair put two and two together and realised that he could create pre-cut cardboard boxes in one operation.
  • 1895 – Robert Gair applied the same principle to corrugated board, thus inventing the corrugated cardboard box. The world welcomed his invention and soon the packaging industry started replacing wooden crates and boxes with corrugated cardboard boxes.


Cardboard boxes remain one of the simplest ways to move things from one place to another. Whether it’s a case of taking a juice box in your lunch box or you’re moving from one house to another, cardboard boxes help collect numerous amounts of things into one confined space for easy handling. They have remained the leading form of packaging since the early 1900’s and there are no signs of their popularity slowing down! Design Packaging & Tapes is one of the leading packaging manufacturers and suppliers in Johannesburg. Contact us for more information.