Richard Drew invented masking tape and clear adhesive tape (also called cellophane tape or Scotch tape). Drew was an engineer for the 3M company (the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing).
Drew's first tape invention was a masking tape made for painters in 1923 (this tape was designed to help painters paint a straight border between two colors). This early masking tape was a wide paper tape with adhesive on only the edges of the tape - not in the middle. Drew made an improved tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape in 1930. This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide. The first tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee.
Humor associated with the invention of masking tape. Auto workers were looking for something that they could mark the paint lines on cars that would not damage the paint when it was removed. Richard Drew was charged with the responsibility to invent a tape to fill the need. He made an adhesive tape that had an adhesive that was not overly sticky, but that would hold enough to do the job.
It now comes in many different styles, finishes, sizes and even colors. You can get a matte finish, which seems to "disappear" when applied, and glossy, you can even get some with decorative designs to spruce up packages or envelopes. It even comes in a double-sided variety with adhesive on both sides. It comes in disposable dispensers, rolls that you can put in permanent dispensers, and now, even handy dispensers which allow you to take one small piece of adhesive tape at a time.