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Author Topic: Who invented the can opener?  (Read 42511 times)

Offline chris

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Who invented the can opener?
« on: 10/10/2002 23:01:09 »
Who invented the can opener, does anyone know ?

Chris
« Last Edit: 08/04/2013 19:37:45 by chris »


 

Offline george

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #1 on: 22/10/2002 16:57:02 »
Here's the answer to the can opener conundrum !

The first basic tin can opener was invented by Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Conneticut in 1858. The design was improved upon by William Lyman who added a wheel for continuous operation. That was in 1870. His design was still quite cumbersome, however, and relied on the lid of the can being punctured first, and the opener being specifically adjusted for cans of different sizes.

The design we use today came out in 1925 (uncertain of the inventor), and don't forget the Philips electric one that graced every kitchen in the 70's and 80's !
 

Offline Exodus

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #2 on: 03/05/2003 18:10:46 »
what about the other designs that are in circulation, like the one that takes the whole part of the lid off from the edge?

Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem...
 

Offline Pappy

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #3 on: 29/10/2003 21:53:30 »
How much time elapsed between the invention of the can and the invention of the can opener? Seems the creator of the can must of thought it a good idea to provide a means of getting to the contents.
 

Offline Ians Daddy

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #4 on: 29/10/2003 23:55:42 »
I'm assuming they used the old style key system. Remember the old key on SPAM? Good question. I know cans of old were made of mostly lead, which is a soft metal. Maybe a knife would do the trick back then. Anxious to know.
 

Offline Pappy

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #5 on: 30/10/2003 02:58:14 »
Leaded SPAM, now there's a complete meal.
 

Offline chris

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #6 on: 30/10/2003 10:23:54 »
I heard somewhere that cans actually pre-dated can-openers by about 20 years or so - can anyone confirm this ?

Chris


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Re: Can opener
« Reply #7 on: 28/01/2004 08:45:37 »
quote:
Originally posted by chris

I heard somewhere that cans actually pre-dated can-openers by about 20 years or so - can anyone confirm this ?

Chris


"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx



Actually, no one knows the answer for sure, but there was a society of clearly anorexic people found with a stockpile of canned foods.  We're not quite sure what happened to them.. :D

www.ambientnoize.iphhost.com  Where polite conversation ends....
« Last Edit: 28/01/2004 08:46:18 by Ace »
 

Offline Quantumcat

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #8 on: 06/02/2004 20:27:31 »
Speaking of SPAM, one day on a walk, he found a can someone threw away and eat the remaining contents. No one wanted to go near him for at least a few days afterwards.

Am I dead? Am I alive? I'm both!
 

Offline fuxxor

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #9 on: 30/05/2004 11:31:53 »
If they put lead in most cans I'm surprised nobody suffered too harshly from lead poisoning.  Is there any history that correlates an increase in death since the invention of the can?
 

Offline Donnah

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #10 on: 30/05/2004 23:24:01 »
quote:
Originally posted by chris

I heard somewhere that cans actually pre-dated can-openers by about 20 years or so - can anyone confirm this?

I believe cans were opened with a knife until some enterprising soul invented the can opener.
 

Offline Marhoofer

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #11 on: 22/09/2004 17:50:55 »
Atually the can itself was invented in 1810 by a man named Peter Durand.  He made them so food would stay preserved longer on naval ships out to sea.  Because the cans were so thick, they could only be opened by chisel, or using a knife, but as time went on, and the cans became thinner, the can opener could then be invented in 1858.
 

Offline PhirePhly

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #12 on: 13/05/2005 03:29:21 »
quote:
Originally posted by chris

Who invented the can opener, does anyone know ?

Chris



I offer this alternative response:

The vaginal speculum was invented by Diokles of Karystos c. 300 bce and the rectal speculum by Hippocrates c. 331 bce.

http://www.med.virginia.edu/hs-library/historical/antiqua/instru.html [nofollow]

Or did you mean a different sort of 'can'?

Thanks,
 
L. Lisov
« Last Edit: 13/05/2005 03:32:57 by PhirePhly »
 

Offline Ray hinton

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #13 on: 30/01/2006 23:52:04 »
Thomas crapper invented the flushing can ,but i dont know the date!.

every village has one !
 

Offline eric l

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #14 on: 03/08/2006 17:45:49 »
As far as I know, canned food was already used in Napoleon's armies.  The cans contained complete meals for 4 or six soldiers, "cassoulet" consisting of beans, meat (sausages and bacon) and sauce being a typical example.  I suppose the soliers used their bayonets to puncture the can before heating it, an used the same bayonet again for opening the can one way or another.  It is not stated how many cassualties this may have costed.
 

Offline Simulated

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Can opener
« Reply #15 on: 08/03/2008 07:50:40 »
Yeah I heard that the can opener was made for the use in one of the armies around the world. I remember hearing about it on the history channel awhile back.
 

Offline wroxtar

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Can opener
« Reply #16 on: 13/08/2009 01:09:50 »
The first practical can opener was developed 50 years after the birth of the metal can.  Canned food was invented for the British Navy in 1813.  Made of solid iron, the cans usually weighed more than the food they held!  The inventor, Peter Durand, was guilty of an incredible oversight. Though he figured out how to seal food into cans, he gave little thought to how to get it out again.  Instructions read:  "Cut round the top near the outer edge with a chisel and hammer."  Only when thinner steel cans came into use in the 1860s could the can opener be invented.  The first (patented in 1858), devised by Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut, looked like a bent bayonet. Its large curved blade was driven into a can’s rim, then forcibly worked around its edge.  Stranger yet, this first type of can opener never left the grocery store.  A clerk had to open each can before it was taken away!

The modern can opener, with a cutting wheel that rolls around the rim, was invented by William Lyman of the United States in 1870.  The only change from the original patent was the introduction of a serrated rotation wheel by the Star Can Company of San Francisco in 1925. The basic principle continues to be used on the modern can openers, and it was the basis of the first electric can opener, introduced in December 1931.   Pull-open cans, patented by Ermal Fraze of Ohio, debuted in 1966.
 

Offline Don_1

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Can opener
« Reply #17 on: 13/08/2009 08:06:17 »
The first practical can opener was developed 50 years after the birth of the metal can. 

"Henrrry, this can has passed its 'use by' date"
"I told you not to buy it until they had figured out a way to open it, dear".
 

Offline Democritus

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Can opener
« Reply #18 on: 29/01/2010 13:11:27 »
Well, it seems we know what came first, the can or the can opener. Posts made me recall a tragic mid 19th century arctic expedition where all died. Some blamed lead poisoning from the canned food. But that's all I recalled, so I sent a search engine starting with 'G' on a fact finding mission with the clue "arctic expedition tragedy lead poisoning canned food".

Presently,
http://www.hakluyt.com/PDF/Battersby_Franklin.pdf [nofollow]
replied; title and abstact follows:

"Journal of the Hakluyt Society September 2008
Identification of the Probable Source of the Lead Poisoning Observed
in Members of the Franklin Expedition
by William Battersby

Abstract
Since 1982, signs of a high exposure to lead have been identified in the human remains of members
of John Franklin’s expedition to the Arctic, 1845–8. Tinned food has been suggested as the source
of this lead. This paper provides evidence that the primary source of this lead was not tinned food,
which was in widespread use in the Royal Navy at the time, but the unique water system fitted to
the expedition’s ships."

The rest of the report in the journal makes very interesting reading and I would commend it to you.
Re another millennium, I recall lead within plumbing being a prime suspect (via lead poisoning) contributing to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Which brings to mind themes as distant yet connected as the expression 'plumb crazy' and the Mad Hatter of Alice of Looking Glass and Wonderland fame. But that's another story.
D   



   
 

Offline cheryl j

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Can opener
« Reply #19 on: 06/12/2011 06:27:06 »
Why don't can openers last as long as they used to? My parents had the same one for like 15 years, and I can't get more than a year out of one, whether I pay a lot or get it at the dollar store.
 

Offline Geezer

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Can opener
« Reply #20 on: 06/12/2011 08:06:10 »
OK, you asked for it;

How many cans can a cannibal nibble if a cannibal can nibble cans?
 

Offline imatfaal

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Can opener
« Reply #21 on: 06/12/2011 10:48:49 »
Why don't can openers last as long as they used to? My parents had the same one for like 15 years, and I can't get more than a year out of one, whether I pay a lot or get it at the dollar store.
They ate less canned food?  Seriously tho... low quality manufacturing, built in obsolescence, and deliberately poor lifespan are just a part of our times
 

Offline menageriemanor

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Re: Can opener
« Reply #22 on: 20/02/2013 01:42:24 »
I still use a curved bayonet opener I have to puncture the lid with first, then seesaw around the edge.  Any other wheeled. more refined version seems to not work after a week or 2.  As I get a bit of arthritis, I am muttering more, when I use it, but more and more, things I buy in tins have ring pull systems, ie tinned toms, etc
 

Offline Crank

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Re: Who invented the can opener?
« Reply #23 on: 24/05/2016 04:03:01 »
May I, a naked and as yet unbaptized member of this forum, belatedly offer a modest contribution to this important topic? I have two different can opener designs to report that were doubtless very important in their day.

Menageriemanor's
post brought to mind a childhood recollection (from England, once a great seafaring nation). Some of the boys owned a cheap-looking, very well-worn, but sturdy old pocket knife of a type known as a jack-knife. It had a blade and next to it, a forked, blade-like tool of unknown purpose: on the opposite side there was usually a large, full-length, robust spike.

Landlubbers claimed the spike was for removing stones from horses' hooves (no doubt for lack of a better explanation, as we never found a hoof laying around with a stone lodged in it, perhaps because by the 1950's, there were few horses still walking the streets.) Many years later I realized that the spike is a marlin spike, used in ropework. suggesting a nautical origin for the knife design.

A search in Wikipedia finds mention of a jack-knife, but does not discuss its history. It does however, reference an article from the Norwalk Hour (of Connecticut), which appeared on the comics page (24) on May 31st, 1961, in the form of an answer to a puzzle question in The Junior Editor's "Quiz on words: QUESTION: How did the jackknife get its name?" One Gregory F. McIntyre received what then was the princely sum of $10 for submitting it, but it remains unclear if he also provided the answer.

It is there stated that in the 19th century "jack" was a term applied to a device smaller than usual: supposedly the reason a pocket knife, necessarily small, was called a jack-knife. Aboard ship the term "jack" was applied to a flag smaller than the main ensign (giving short shrift to the the British national ensign, the Union Jack, and throwing some doubt on the reliability of this source.)

You may know that sailors (in England, at least) were known as "Jack Tars" for ceaselessly caulking the hip's seams in dock. If so, you will have deduced that the marlin-spiked knife was designed for, and used by sailors, and so I propose, gained its name of jack-kniife (I later found that I am not the first to suggest this).

I actually own such a knife, dated 1945. It never had a marlin spike, and was probably made for civilian use. Like most jack-knives, its stout secondary blade is cleft from the tip about an inch deep towards the hinge, and the lower portion is longer and pointed, the two opposing sides filed into blunt blades: the upper portion is blunt and not sharpened. In the light of the foregoing discussion, it is clearly a can-opener: the tip is perfectly adapted to punch through a tin can, allowing the lower, slightly sharpened prong to be inserted to cut or rip open the can, perhaps a half inch or more at a time, using the top portion for leverage.

A more primitive can opener, merely comprising  a 1 1/4"" fold out, stout, dagger-like blade to punch open a can was found on British jack-knives from 1905 until 1939, when it was replaced with the more effective design I described. Neither design depends on the can having a rim, as did the more modern design that followed.

Marhoofer mentioned that canned food was invented for the navy, another nautical association.

One can Goog "British Jack Knife and immediately see some fine army examples. Dig deeper, and it emerges that Jack-knives had their origin in France in the 18th century, are distinguished from other folding knives of the time by having both blades hinged at the same end. They appeared in the US navy during the civil war (sans can opener). They became widely established, with an added can opener in the British army and navies and her allies' counterparts in WW1, and also in the US military and in civilian use by WWII. Several minor variants were manufactured by many companies. The army and civilians eventually discarded the spike, but similar, updated knives remain military issue.

In the age of the steamship, and certainly after WWII, such knifes became obsolete and so landed in boys' ever open pockets.  (The only other type of knife I recall English boys owning in those days was another obsolete design, the pen-knife).
 
I have one other indirectly related suggestion to offer. Perhaps Peter Durand was not so careless about providing a means of opening the can as he seemed: he did prescribe a chisel. It was mentioned that Napoleon's army used cans of food sufficient for several men. This meant that only the most junior officers would need to carry a chisel, and thus the rate of food consumption could be controlled, a critical factor in military logistics. In later years individual cans evidently became preferable, and so the jack-knife can openers appeared.
 

Offline Ernest F

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Re: Who invented the can opener?
« Reply #24 on: 25/08/2016 20:27:08 »
I would think that most items were put into tins before can openers were made. Like metal flasks were used instead of bottles. most earlier cans were coated on the insides
 

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Re: Who invented the can opener?
« Reply #24 on: 25/08/2016 20:27:08 »

 

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