It was invented by two engineers Al Fielding and Swiss inventor Marc Chavannes in 1957. They were trying to create a textured wallpaper. They started out by sealing two shower curtains together in such a way that it would capture air bubbles which would make the textured appearance for their wallpaper. The wallpaper idea didn't sell. They tried to find another use for their product and tried to use it as greenhouse insulation. This idea wasn't popular either.
Three years later Frederick W. Bowers, a marketer at Sealed Air,
which makes Bubble Wrap, came up with the perfect use for the
product. IBM announced their new 1401 computer and Bowers got the
idea that Bubble Wrap could be used as a packaging material to
protect the computer while it was being shipped. He then pitched the
idea to IBM and it began purchasing Bubble Wrap to protect their
1401 and other fragile products.
About $400 million worth of Bubble Wrap is sold annually. Bubble
Wrap can be used as a cheap burglar alarm by placing it on the
floor in front of a door.