Lifetime achievement award for inventor of the hole-punch for socks

A British inventor was the toast of his peers last night at the annual International Inventors Guild awards, having being awarded the coveted lifetime achievement award for his invention, the hole-punch for socks.

Bertram Bainbridge invented the ‘Sock Punch’, a device which makes small holes in the big toe area of men’s socks, in 1959 after a female friend complained that her husband had been wearing the same 3-pair set of Argyles ever since they were married. “At the time I was using a hole-punch on some sheets of paper,” he recalled, “and the idea just came to me.”

Bainbridge adapted the hole-punch to cut through woollen garments and instructed his friend to surreptitiously make a small hole where her husband’s toe would be most likely to poke through. “A week later she told me that her husband had binned the socks, fed up the uncomfortable feeling of his exposed big toe waggling about on its own. She then proudly showed me the brand new 3-pair gift set of Argyle socks that she had bought for his birthday.”

Word of this invention soon spread as women throughout Britain, frustrated by their partner’s worn and dated sock collections and unable to think of a suitable birthday or Christmas present, asked to purchase one of Bainbridge’s hole-punches. He was then approached by manufacturing giant Ronco with a deal to mass-produce his invention and the rest is history.

Twenty million worldwide Sock Punch sales later and Bainbridge is now the proud recipient of the International Inventors Guild lifetime achievement award, given in recognition of his services to womankind. “Even today I get letters from housewives expressing their gratitude.” he said, fighting back the tears during his acceptance speech.

Over the years Bainbridge has been asked the same question over and over again: why doesn’t he invent a similar device for Y-fronts and boxer shorts? But despite the money he could make, this is an invention he has always refused to contemplate. “I have to draw the line somewhere. Socks? Fair enough: but an Englishman’s underpant collection is his castle.”

(Written 10 Mar 2009)

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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