Tuesday Open Line

A patent awarded on this date in 1903 literally affected the shape of things to come. Specifically, the shape of glass things to come. Michael Owens of Toledo, Ohio, patented a machine that could automatically manufacture glass bottles, producing four per second. The invention standardized and expanded the glass industry. It also enabled tremendous growth in the soft drink and beer industries, making available a less expensive way of packaging their products. Owens’ later machines were developed to quickly turn out standard, uniform glass jars, as we use today. Manufacturing glass containers currently engages 87 establishments and 14,000 workers in the U.S., with annual business receipts of around $5 billion. You can find current data on the country’s economy by downloading the ‘America’s Economy’ mobile application at <www.census.gov/mobile>.