Olfa Corporation is credited with the invention of the standard rotary cutter quilters use today. They first began marketing the cutter, mat, and rulers in 1979. Before that, many in the clothing manufacturing industry had been using large rotary cutters to cut through stacks of items at once. These were often 12-20 ” across!
I think of it as the circular saw of the sewing world. I still use my scissors, but for straight lines, cutting layers, and trimming/squaring off finished blocks, the rotary cutter is wonderful. So many styles are now available, from many manufacturers.
I have some lovely old quilts made by my Great Aunt Ebba. Some are handpieced, many are machine quilted. I wonder, as I cut my almost perfect squares with a rotary cutter and ruler, what she would think of this nifty tool!