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- The Ultimate Guide to The History of Whiteboards -

We wanted to honour the people and inventions that have made whiteboards possible! From the early pioneers of this amazing technology through to the product we know (and sell!) today, here’s the history of whiteboards, an ultimate guide!

Paul F Born

Whiteboards were available as early as the 1950’s, but it is suggested that because they were no different to clean than blackboards, they did not take off commercially until 30 years later. The first recording of a whiteboard is in 1937, a man named is Paul F. Born used a compressed carbon chalk pencil to write on white painted glass to create his whiteboard.  He called it a “White Blackboard”, which is fitting for the time. It was installed in a school in Illinois as an experiment. The result was really positive! It brightened the classroom, made it easier for the children to see what was being written by the teacher and was even said to improve the mood of the children.

Martin Heit

There is not much info on whiteboards between Born’s 1937 experiment and the mid 1950’s when Martin Heit, a photographer and Korean war veteran found that he could write on negatives and wipe it off with a damp rag. Using the same laminate, he developed the first whiteboard. He used this at home to write down information with a small board by the phone. To remove the marker, he you needed a damp cloth, so it wasn’t as good as our whiteboards today, but then again, the first iteration of a new idea never is. Heit was preparing to unveil his whiteboard at a Chicago Merchandise Mart, unfortunately, his whiteboards were lost in a fire the night before he was due to show them. He then decided to sell the patent to a company called Dri-Mark. Dri-Mark are still around today and are best known selling markers that detect counterfeit currency.  

Albert Stallion

Around the same time Albert Stallion, an employee at Alliance Steel came up with the idea that to use enamel coated steel as a whiteboard. His colleagues and managers were not interested Albert’s sidetrack invention; thus he was ignored. Fortunately, Albert could see a use for this invention in the education sector. He believed so much in what he was doing that he left the security of his role at Alliance, and founded his own company, Magiboards, which is still going today. 


Melamine whiteboards seem to have started being manufactured in the late 1970s, early 1980s, even though it was invented in Germany in 1834.  Melamine become more popular in post-World War II America as there was a scarcity of natural resources.  Melamine, is used all around us today. At some stage in the 1970s it started being used as economical whiteboards.  It used seen as a lower grade whiteboard, ideal for offices where they do not get as much use as in schools. 

After melamine, which is a low-pressure laminate (LPL), high pressure laminate whiteboards (HPL) came about. HPL is a very similar process to Melamine, but it uses more layers, a lower heat, and higher pressure.

Flexible Film Laminate

Lastly, was the flexible film laminate, or self-adhesive laminates were invented by Avery Dennison in 1935. Starting off as self-adhesive labels, a way to merchandise products, the company soon grew into the dominate player in this market. In the mid 1970’s the company began to produce self-adhesive vinyl films, sometime after this whiteboard films began to appear on the market, although it is unclear who first brought these to market. 


We now have a plethora of options available to us, from porcelain to melamine, to flexible films. For choosing the right board for you, please see our other articles.  At Tosh & Leod, we produce whiteboards from flexible film laminates because they allow us to produce a great product that performs like porcelain whiteboards, ships better than any other option, and allows you to put your whiteboard almost anywhere with our easy peel and stick solution, even over an existing whiteboard.

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