Although of diminishing importance due to publishers' increasing focus on digital distribution and bound collections that rest nicely on bookshelves, the comic book long box has been ubiquitous in collectors' homes for many years. Though they vary slightly in size and construction, comic collectors are quite familiar with the bleached cardboard boxes that hold so many of their books. But... who invented them? And when?
The earliest U.S. patent I can find relating to comic book storage dates only back to 1993. It's actually a drawer-style box that was invented by Randy Burnett of Los Angeles, CA but his is clearly not the first comic storage box. Indeed, Burnett cites in the documentation that long boxes "are well known and have been commercially available since 1974 or 1975." He does not, however, reference any particular inventors, patents or manufacturers of long boxes.
The earliest photos of them I can find only date back to 1982. Here's Steve Johnson at the San Diego Comic Con...Though the signage up front is highlighting comic bags, there are several long boxes clearly visible on the right.
Interestingly, though, here's long-time retailer Bud Plant at the same convention...Note that his comics down in front are NOT in long boxes but something a little more generic. So, however "well known and commercially available" long boxes may have been, they don't appear to be quite as common as they would later become.
(Both photos were taken by Alan Light.)
That's really all I've been able to find unfortunately. I know I didn't get my first long box until 1984 or 1985, but that obviously post-dates even the photos above.
So who invented the long box? It's a fairly straight-forward and obvious (at least in hindsight) answer to comic book storage, but when/where did it come about? Anyone have any insights?