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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Rolodex
by Hildaur Neilsen in 1954.
ROLODEX®
AT A GLANCE:
In 1954,
Hildaur L. Neilsen, an employee of Arnold Neustadter's Zephyr American Corp , invented a rotary card filing system much like those seen on desktops today. The product was brought to market in 1958 as the Rolodex. Rolodex products have continued to sell well in the age of computers, although their sales might decline as personal digital assistants become more popular.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
BOOKS
VIDEOS
WEB SITES
WHERE TO FIND
QUOTATIONS
DID YOU KNOW?
Invention: Rolodex®
Rolodex photo courtesy Rolodex Corp.
Function: noun / Ro·lo·dex / Registered trademark
Definition: A desktop rotary file of removable cards, usually used for names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
Patent: 2,731,966 (US) issued January 24, 1956
Inventor: Hildaur L. Neilsen  
Criteria: First to patent. Modern prototype..
   
   
   
Milestones:
1932 Scholfield Services Inc.trademarks the name Wheeldex
1938
Arnold Neustadter starts Zephyr American Corp.
1940 Zephyr American Corp. trademarks the name Rolodex

1941 Patent 2,231,029 issued to Richard P. Scholfield for Filing Apparatus
1941 Scholfield Services begins selling an office organizer called Wheeldex
1954 Zephyr employee
Hildaur L. Neilsen invents Rotary Card-Filing System (Rolodex)
1956 Patent 2,731,966 issued to Hildaur L. Neilsen
and assigned to Zephyr Corp.
1958
Zephyr begins selling Neilsen's invention as Rolodex
CAPS:
Hildaur L. Neilsen, Arnold Neustadter, Zephyr American Corp, Richard Scholfield, Scholfield Services Inc,  ARY, Rolodex, wheeldex, rotary file system, SIP, history, invention facts, inventor.
The Story:
 

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Office Equipment  from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
The Harvey Mackay Rolodex Network Builder
by Harvey MacKay  / 95 pages  / MacKay Envelope Corporation (August 30, 1993)
This is an outstanding book. It's clear and to the point! Harvey outlines exactly how you can build, maintain and utilize your rolodex/network
.

ON THE SCREEN:
Office Wonders 
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
Office Wonders explores the stories behind everything from the paper clip to the laser printer, showing how they were invented and developed and revealing what makes them tick. From chance discoveries never intended to wind up at work to the irony of labor saving devices and why they can actually create more work, we'll deconstruct your desktop and expose the wonders there.


ON THE WEB:

Who Was That Masked Inventor
The two men hammered out design details in endless arguments, Eric Neilsen recalls. But Neustadter received nearly all public credit for the Rolodex.  File only available in PDF format.
(URL:
www.princeton.edu/~tenner/id_feature_unsung%5B1%5D.pdf)
Today in Technology History
Those inventions were of modest success compared to Rolodex, a card filing system that rotated on a cylinder. The Rolodex system used slotted cards that snapped into place. Neustadter and his engineer "fiddled with the idea" in the 1940s and started selling the new product in 1950.
(URL: www.tecsoc.org/pubs/history/2002/apr17.htm)
Arnold Neustadter owned and Hildaur Neilson invented the Rolodex
Hildaur Neilson invented the Rolodex, a rotating index file card holder. The Rolodex was first marketed in 1958 by Arnold Neustadter
(URL: inventors.about.com/od/rstartinventions/a/Rolodex.htm).
Rolodex: A Public Radio Commentary by Bill Hammack
Some ten million units are still sold every year, and in fact the computer has been modified to accommodate the Rolodex. You can buy programs that will print out cards, which you can store in your old-fashioned revolving Rolodex.
(URL: /www.engineerguy.com/comm/3900.htm)
Official Rolodex Site
Since 1958, the Rolodex brand has been a leader in contact management and office organization. Sanford, maker of Rolodex, is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office organization, including such well known brands as Paper Mate®, Sharpie®, DYMO®, Parker®, Waterman®, EXPO®, Foohy®, uni-ball®, and Rolodex®.
(URL: www.rolodex.com/sanford/consumer/rolodex/home/pressDetail.jhtml?id=ROPR0001)


WHERE TO FIND:
Classic Rotary Card File
Office products / by Rolodex  / Model ROL66700  / Less than $15.00
Keep numbers organized and close at hand with these convenient files. Efficient design means you don't need to worry about malfunction. Rolomatic Control controls rotation of card wheel so cards stay in desired position. Includes insertable guides made of heavy, transparent acetate for quick, easy reference. Strong, tubular-metal black frame with nonslip, nonmar cushions.

WORDS OF WISDOM:

"Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies." - Woody Allen

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The name Rolodex comes from a combination of the words rolling and index.
  • Some ten million Rolodex units are still sold every year
  • Hildaur L. Neilsen was the inventor, but Arnold Neustadter received all the credit. When Neustadter died in 1996 he was a multimillionaire philanthropist.
  • Despite his lower profile, Neilsen didn’t do badly either. His royalties amounted to the equivalent today of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised September 6, 2006.
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