Fellows claimed that because installing the spring-click required a complete recombination of the other inner components of the tape measure, he had created a new tape measure–not just a specific improvement on Chesterman’s design.
He wasn’t the only American to get in on the game, writes Collectors Weekly. In 1871, just a few years later, a Long-Island based company called Justus Roe & Sons began offering “Roe’s Electric Reel.” But although tape measures are ubiquitous in the trades today, they didn’t take off quickly. It wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that the tape measure overtook the folding wooden carpenter’s ruler, writes Alfred.
According to smithsonianmag