THE RING-PULL, 64 YEARS OLD THIS YEAR. IT'S AN ANTIQUE!
In 1959, an American man called Ermal Fraze devised the can-opening method that would come to dominate the canned beverage market: the pull-tab. This invention had a huge impact on the popularity of cans as containers for beverages as it brought a new level of convenience to the consumer. The ring-pull eliminated the need for a separate opener tool by attaching an aluminium pull-ring lever with a rivet to a pre-scored wedge-shaped tab section of the can top. The ring was riveted to the centre of the top, which created an elongated opening large enough that one hole simultaneously served to let the beverage flow out while air flowed in.
However, it was felt at the time that the pull-tab, while solving one problem – created another. People would frequently discard the pull-tabs on the ground as litter, or drop them into the can and risk choking on them. Coors addressed this issue with the invention of the push-tab – the push-tab was a raised circular scored area used in place of the pull-tab. It needed no ring to pull up. Push tabs never gained a wide popularity as there was a concern they created a safety hazard – the consumer’s finger on pushing the tab into the can was immediately exposed to the sharp edges of the opening.
The ring-pull design we have on our beverage cans today was introduced in 1989 for soft drinks, and 1990 for beer cans.