Борис Бурда
Author: Boris Burda
Journalist, writer, bard. Winner of the «Diamond Owl» intellectual game «What? Where? When?»
Liberal Arts
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NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
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Art by Yuval Yairi


The trains that appeared in the 19th century provided opportunities for individual travel; in the 20th century, airplanes expanded it a lot …

But how to get a heavy suitcase to these vehicles without any problems?

The answer is a little later.




Any more or less civilized state since the time of Sumer and Ancient Egypt had certain knowledge about its neighbors. It could only happen because their residents were visiting each other – at least for trade, profit is a very strong incentive.

But such international business tourism was difficult and dangerous in ancient times. Bandit gangs wandered along the roads, they were sure that someone was carrying some goods, it would be exclusively for them as a gift. And they were so nervous that someone who disagreed with his decision could have been killed.

Transport was also difficult. For example, Urartu traded with Assyria in the following way: ships from twigs were covered with leather, the bottom was covered with reeds, goods were packed, the donkey was loaded and swam. In Assyria, everything except the skin and the donkey was sold, the donkey brought the skin home and repeated the procedure.

Where there were no rivers, caravans went. Not only goods, but also personal belongings of merchants were transported in packs, in saddlebags, and later in carts. This is not so bad – there was enough space, but the merchant was tied to the caravan and practically could not leave it. It is convenient for business, but this is not tourism.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Caravan. Source: forexdengi.com




The abundance of travel created a road network, and inns appeared at the crossroads even during the reign of Hammurabi. There were even more of them in the ancient world, especially in Ancient Rome, where the state built good roads, and there were quite a lot of people traveling about their business.

The first mention of a roadside hotel can be found at Horace. These hotels were different – separate for civil servants, easier for private individuals. Accommodation conditions were usually modest – most often a place on an armful of hay next to your horse or donkey.

But they already had to take care of the luggage – there were even laws providing for the responsibility of the innkeeper for the integrity of the guest’s belongings. This already made it possible for even single travelers to travel about their business.

But it was not bad to abuse this opportunity, since the innkeepers had such a bad reputation that they were deprived of some of the rights, for example, to initiate proceedings in court and take the oath, purely for such work. Probably, there was why …




And in later times, people traveled exclusively on urgent matters, for their own pleasure – almost never. Remember literature – where did the heroes of books about the Middle Ages go? Pilgrimage, Crusade, trade, and that’s it! Nowhere else to pack your bags.

The very word “suitcase” (by the way, in Russian it is of Persian origin and in translation means “keeper of clothes”) have you often met in the literature about relatively close times? All chests, baskets, backpacks, a little later – chests attached to a wagon or carriage.

The earliest mention of the word “suitcase” I found in the novel “The Three Musketeers” – do you remember Porthos demanding horses from the prosecutor for himself and Moushketon, as well as a suitcase, and even with all the contents? Well, Dumas is a textbook on history, but in the original valise, like a suitcase …

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Still from the film D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers

However, this suitcase clearly did not cause problems for Porthos – the servant Mushketon would have to take care of its transportation and safety, he had an army baggage at his service, not to mention the fact that he was like a feather to the strong man Porthos. And what was it like for people to carry their things?




But just before the publication of The Three Musketeers, at the beginning of the 19th century, railroad transport appeared. It is not very easy to carry the old chest to the train, people needed something more compact and more convenient, something feasible for short-term carrying by one person.

When the time comes, people appear – in 1835, a 14-year-old teenager moved to Paris and entered the workshop for the manufacture of travel bags, in which he worked for 18 years and came up with a suitcase there – almost the same as we are used to. His name was Louis Vuitton.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Louis Vuitton. Source: wikipedia.org

The suitcases invented by him were not rounded, like those of chests, but flat walls, which made it possible to put them on top of each other. Unlike travel bags, they were rigid and did not wrinkle in transit. Later, suitcases with cloth-covered walls appeared.

Louis Vuitton received well-deserved recognition, and in 1853 he became the personal packer of the wife of Emperor Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie. His business also developed and in the practical hands of the heirs has survived to our times, becoming even more perfect.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Louis Vuitton store. Source: en-stock.top


The 19th century put people on trains, and the 20th century put people on airplanes. It was impossible to drag suitcases into the cockpit of the plane, but the carriers found a way out – they took and loaded them separately, and then gave them out at the airport. In general, it’s okay, but it was still unpleasant to drag.

So they dragged the unfortunate suitcases as best they could – both at train stations and at airports. Some times they resorted to the services of porters, but paying for carrying at a distance of a couple of tens of meters, and even a lot of money, is always somehow depressing. However, I don’t want to overstrain either.

This is how you drag a heavy suitcase and feel like some kind of Inca or Aztec who, obeying the orders of the priests, pulls somewhere a heavy stone to build a pyramid – their pyramids were larger than the Egyptian ones, and the stones for them were dragged without using a wheel …

Isn’t the whole America thought of the wheel? But just imagine – they didn’t succeed! Moreover, in any decent museum you can see that Native Americans gladly used wheels for children’s toys, but not for something more serious!


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Are we Aztecs? We know very well that rolling friction is less than sliding friction!

The porter puts several suitcases on the trolley and carries them without difficulty, because the trolley has wheels!

The suitcase has no wheels! So let’s fix it, what’s the big deal?

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
The first rolling suitcase. Source: constructorus.ru


In 1972, United States Luggage Company employee Bernard David Sadow was returning with his wife from a vacation on the small island of Aruba. He dragged two heavy suitcases by force to the airport counter, and a worker flew past with a trolley loaded to the top.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Trolley with suitcases. Source: sooffwego.com


Anyone is offended when someone with a heavier load overtakes him as he wants. “Now, if I had wheels …” – thought Sadow and immediately asked himself: “Why don’t I have them?” Is it difficult to attach it? As easy as shelling pears … Why not try? ” Indeed, why?

Bernard went to his father-in-law, the owner of the factory where he worked, and dragged a suitcase through his office, to which were attached four wheels, by a strap that was threaded through his handle. But the father-in-law only asked him in disgust what he was doing and why. He didn’t even understand!

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Bernard David Sadow. Source: jewishnews.com


Sadow tried to offer his invention to others, but for a long time could not succeed. He was told: “It’s inconvenient, if you pull it like that, the suitcase will fall on its side” (by the way, not without reason). He proposed an outrigger – a counterweight that gives the suitcase stability.

As a result, he was lucky – the Macy’s company began to produce such suitcases, and it turned out that they were quite in demand. And a little later, Sadow made another invention – a suitcase with an air cushion that protects computers and similar fragile equipment from impacts.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How to get the suitcase where it should go?
Macy’s is the first company to launch a rolling suitcase. Source: d.elhorizonte.mx




It didn’t take long before Northwest Airlines civilian pilot Robert Plath, who constantly had to walk into the cockpit with his bag, took the next step – equipped the bag with only two wheels, but sewed a pocket with a retractable steel handle to it.

Such a bag did not have the manner of wobbling and falling, and it was completely hassle-free to drag it along the narrow aisle between the chairs. Colleagues looked at Plata with surprise, which very quickly turned into envy – they also wanted such a bag!

One of the colleagues plucked up the courage and asked to make the same one for him – of course, not for free. Someone else saw the new bag, and orders poured onto Pay with tremendous intensity, which he encouraged by giving new customers a $ 5 discount.

Soon Plath was forced to quit his job as a pilot – there were too many orders. He founded Travelpro and filed a patent for a rollaboard bag with two wheels and a retractable handle. It turned out that it is as convenient for passengers as it is for pilots.




In the first year of operation, Travelpro sold such bags for $ 1,500,000. And very soon, in 1999, when Plath retired, the company’s sales were $ 50 million – an impressive figure! And many companies have already started producing such bags …

As a result, it became a problem to find a suitcase or a bag without wheels – for example, I simply do not have travel bags without wheels. Do you have? If so, it’s very strange – after all, it’s more comfortable with wheels. There is no harm from them, but the benefits are quite obvious.

Such bags are convenient – even a small set of clothes and travel accessories is easier and more pleasant to roll than to carry with your own hands. In addition, such bags are also beautiful – they perfectly complement the tourist’s appearance and give him dynamism.

A little time will pass, and someone will tell some young man that before the bags did not have wheels and they were dragged by special handles, lifting them above the ground, and he would answer: “Are you kidding me? It’s hard and inconvenient, but it’s very easy to think of these wheels ”. And he won’t believe it.




Traveling without an acute and inevitable need, just for your own pleasure, is a great novelty, they are not yet two hundred years old. Appreciate and Enjoy!

Laws obliging hoteliers to be responsible for storing the luggage of their guests date back to ancient Rome. Watch out for things – they will be more whole, this problem did not arise today and will not be solved today!

The shortcomings of Sadow’s suitcases were noticed by many, and only a few, such as Robert Plath, noticed ways to correct these shortcomings. Think about who is more useful!

Now the idea of ​​attaching wheels to a suitcase seems trivial, and self-evident. But for more than a century, no one could have thought of it … Here on the whole American continent, the wheel was not used, although it seemed that there was nothing complicated …

You should like your travel companion and benefit you. Your suitcase is also your companion. Now you understand which suitcase you need to choose …

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