How the old-fashioned Dymo label maker made embossed self-adhesive plastic labels easy & popular (1960s-80s)

Vintage Dymo labelmakers

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The old-fashioned Dymo label maker that was so popular from the 1960s to the 1980s was easy to use and affordable — which meant that those colorful plastic sticky labels they yielded used to be seen almost everywhere and on everything.

This tool was a revolution in tidy, embossed letters, turning chaos into order with a simple squeeze of its handle. In fact, the colored tape with white embossed capital letters even became an iconic look all on its own! 

History of the Demo label maker

The story of these retro labelers begins in 1958 — an era characterized by innovation and the quest for efficiency. The demand for this product reflected a movement towards a more organized, systematic approach to life and work.

Removing the sticky back from old plastic Dymo embossed labels at ClickAmericana com

The original Dymo label maker was a handheld device that embossed letters onto a strip of colored plastic tape, creating durable and water-resistant labels. Its ease of use and practicality made it an instant hit not just in offices but also in homes, where it became a staple for organizing everything from file folders to spice jars.

As decades passed, the Dymo label maker evolved, but the essence of its function remained unchanged. It was about creating order, a physical manifestation of putting one’s ducks in a row. These gadgets became emblematic of their times, capturing the spirit of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s through their design and functionality.

Below, we’ve gathered a collection of vintage advertisements for Dymo label makers from the 1960s to the 1980s. These ads are windows into the past, showing us how a simple labeling tool was marketed and perceived through different eras, revealing the evolution of aesthetics, language and societal values.

1960s Dymo home labelmaker at ClickAmericana com

DYMO Label Maker Machine with Tape - 100H LetraTag Handheld, Comes with 3 LT Label Tapes. Great for...
  • COMPACT & LIGHTWEIGHT: Portable Label Maker As a handheld label maker, this device stands out with its lightweight and compact nature, making labeling a convenient task in any location.
  • CUSTOMIZE YOUR LABELS: Sticker Label Maker This unique handheld label maker offers an array of styles, with 5 font sizes, 7 print styles, and 8 box styles. Unleash the color label maker in you and...
  • GRAPHICAL DISPLAY: Label Printer This portable label maker allows you to preview your labels with its graphical display, ensuring that your labels print exactly as you anticipate for a perfect end...

Early basic Dymo M-2 Tapewriter (1961)

Embossed labels in seconds with pressure-sensitive vinyl or metal labeling tapes… Use the Tapewriter anywhere… makes color labels for all sports and recreational equipment.

Makes high-contrast white letters and numbers raised up on bright colored tapes…  Tape labels that can’t be erased or changed. Colors aid group identification. Tapes stick to almost anything.

Early basic Dymo M-2 Tapewriter - 1961

The DYMO Universal Labeling System for businesses (1962)

Dymo labelmaker 1962

The perfect gift for Dad: A retro label maker (1964)

Now he can make permanent, professional labels in seconds! A turn of the dial, a squeeze of the handle… raised letters, numbers, symbols come out on white on a colored background. At fine stores everywhere.

Retro Dymo Home Labelmaker from 1964

ALSO SEE: Vintage paper welders: Old office page fasteners that worked without staples

Old-fashioned Dymo labelmaker (1964)

Just what he’s always wanted! What is it? (It’s a Dymo Labelmaker)


A different gift. And one that a man will use — and use and use. In just seconds, he can squeeze out professional, raised-letter labels to personalize his valuable belongings. Or easy-to-read labels to identify switches, fuses, controls in the house, on the boat, in the car. (And later, when he’s not looking, you’ll love to use the Dymo Labelmaker, too.)

There are 15 brilliant, colorful tapes to choose from. The letters you print come out sharp and clear and white … with an adhesive backing so strong a Dymo label can stick permanently to just about everything from a fruit jar to a pair of children’s boots.

So get him a Dymo Labelmaker for Christmas. He’ll love it. So will you.

Old-fashioned Dymo labelmaker from 1964

Old-fashioned Dymo Home Label maker (1965 model)

Even if it’s the last gift he opens, it’ll be the first gift he’ll use. It’s a Dymo Home Labelmaker.

The minute he gets it, he’ll start making labels for his other gifts. Just turn the dial, squeeze the handle, out come bright, colorful vinyl labels with letters that pop-up crisp and white. Adhesive back sticks to any clean, smooth surface indoors or out. What an original way to say Merry Christmas.

Dymo Products Co., Berkeley, Calif. A Division of Dymo Industries, Inc.

1965 Dymo labelmaker

Just turn the wheel and squeeze the handle (1965)

… Out come self-adhesive vinyl labels that can personalize this [sunglasses], identify this [a butterfly specimen], organize this [recipe cards], or go on anything you can imagine.

Vintage Dymo labelmakers from 1966

MORE: When portable manual typewriters started to get fancy with office typewriter features in the ’50s

Give your wife a Dymo label maker, and what does she do? (1967)

She takes advantage of it. Clever little devil, isn’t she?

If she’s like most wives, she’ll find about a zillion other uses for it, too. Like labeling her spice bottles and kitchen canisters and putting names on kid’s toys. Of course, that’s only a few out of a zillion, but it won’t take her long to discover the rest.

The Dymo Labelmaker embosses neat, easy-to-read raised white letters on colorful self-sticking vinyl tape. Isn’t that worth taking advantage of?

Old style plastic labeler from 1967

Vintage large Dymo label maker typewriter embossing tool

Vintage Dymo large labelmaker typewriter embossing tool (2) at ClickAmericana com

Vintage Dymo large labelmaker typewriter embossing tool (1) at ClickAmericana com

Dymo label makers were still big in the 80s (1984)

Dymo Tapewriter: “How I punched my way to the top.”

“Our office was a mess. If you could find a label on anything, it was too worn and tattered to read. Nobody knew what-was-what orr whose-was-whose. So I took my Dymo Tapewriter and started punching.

“I punched labels for our filing cabinets. Our binders, books and phones. That tough Dymo tape stuck everywhere! The big, embossed letters read loud and clear. I punched out instructions. Reminders. Names. Plus, the twelve, bold colors let me color-key. The office looked great. And everybody appreciated the new organization. Specially my boss.” 

Dymo labelmakers still big in the 80s (1984) at ClickAmericana com

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I had a Dymo label maker as a kid, and my friends were always asking me to make labels for them. Embossed labels had the advantage of being durable – they were waterproof, didn’t fade or wear, and the sticky backing stuck to pretty much anything. Every once in awhile you come across an embossed label that you know has been in place for decades.
    The only downside was that the label makers needed a lot of hand strength, which as a kid I didn’t have — so it made label making difficult.

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