June 10, 2011 - The “Outlook Envelope” is born!

– 1902

I've heard it said before: just take something that has already been invented, and make it better. Voila! You have a new invention!

That's what Americus Callahan did. On this day in 1902, the Chicago resident received a patent for a windowed envelope, which used to be called an outlook envelope. A section of the envelope was cut out, and (as Callahan suggested), a thin piece of rice paper covered the cutout. The contents of the envelope were protected, and yet the address could be easily read through the transparent paper.

It was a super idea! Although companies now use clear plastic rather than rice paper, the

design of today's windowed envelopes is basically the same as Callahan's. And the savings in time, cost, and quality in not having to print or type addresses on envelopes is equally welcome today as it was in the early 1900s!


To celebrate the then-new outlook envelope, how about reinventing something yourself? What doesn't work quite perfectly in your life? Can you change something to make it faster, cheaper, longer-lasting, more reliable, bigger, smaller, or more personalized?

Or you could try to reinvent your outlook on something. Try to learn something outside your comfort zone. Go somewhere new, talk to new people, try a new hobby. Read a kind of book you've never read before, listen to a kind of music you think you'd probably dislike, or watch a documentary on a topic you've never, ever explored.

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