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January 24 1956 - Rolodex Patent#2,731,966
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Arnold Neustadter and the History of the Rolodex

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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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. The name Rolodex comes from a combination of the words rolling and index.

Arnold Neustadter and Zephyr American

In 1910, Arnold Neustadter was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended New York University and was employed at his father's box factory. In 1938, Neustadter started a company called Zephyr American that manufactured and sold all the inventions he owned including the Rolodex. He died in 1996.

The Rolodex

Self taught Danish Engineer Hildaur Neilson worked for Arnold Neustadter. The Rolodex was based on a similar, earlier invention called the Wheeldex. Neilson engineered several improvements that made the Rolodex a better circular file card holder than the Wheeldex including: a second circular rail, plastic handles for easy turning, and a type of clutch. Arnold Neustadter the sucessful marketer for Zephyr American products as well as the owner. Hildaur Neilson was the brains behind most of the inventing and design work.

The Other Dexs: The Inventions of Arnold Neustadter and Zephyr American

Besides his now famous Rolodex, Arnold Neustadter and Zephyr American employees also invented several other inventions including:
  • Autodex, a phone directory book that automatically opened to the right letter
  • Swivodex, an inkwell that did not spill
  • Punchodex, a paper hole puncher
  • Clipodex, a stenographer's aid that attached to the knee

Continue with the History of Office Innovations

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