The paper clip was invented by Norwegian Johan Vaaler in 1899. Because his home country did not have any patent laws in place at the time, Vaaler patented his design in Germany the same year.
Vaaler was working at an invention office when he came up with the idea for the paper clip, and he received a patent in 1901 for the invention from the U.S. Patent Office. Still, the act of fastening papers together was not a new concept. The practice was observed as early as the 1200s, although a ribbon was inserted in the upper left-hand corner of the pages. The use of a wax ribbon that was easier to handle soon followed, and the practice was widely used for the six centuries leading up to Vaaler's invention of the metal paper clip.