Ermal Cleon Fraze, 76, who invented the pull-tab opener used on beer and soft drink cans. Fraze, an engineer, was born on a farm near Muncie, Ind., and moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he assembled novelties for Cracker Jack boxes. In 1950, he started Dayton Reliable Tool & Manufacturing Co. Nine years later while on a family picnic, Fraze had to use a car bumper to open a can of beer because he had no opener. Thinking there must be an easier way to open cans, he came up with the pull tab. Fraze obtained the first patent for a pull-tab can in 1963 and said then that he was not the first to envision an easy-open can but that he was the one who developed a way to attach the tab to the top of the can. According to figures provided by his company, which receives royalties from the tabs' manufacturer, Aluminum Co. of America, about 150 billion easy-open cans were used last year. In Dayton on Oct. 26 of a brain tumor.
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