Accidental Inventions: Super Glue

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Super Glue, the brand name for the fast-acting adhesive cyanoacrylate was discovered accidentally in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover and Fred Joyner of Kodak Laboratories during experiments to make a transparent plastic for use at precision gunsights for soldiers during WWII. The researchers discovered that the substance was extremely sticky, making it very difficult to work with. Moisture caused the chemicals to polymerize, and since virtually all objects have a thin layer of moisture on them, bonding occurred in almost every testing instance.

In 1951, Coover was in Kingsport, Tennessee overseeing the work of a group of Kodak chemists who were researching heat-resistant polymers for jet airplane canopies. He re-discovered the cyanoacrylates and recognized the potential in them.

Coover received patent # 2,768,109 for his “Alcohol-Catalyzed Cyanoacrylate Adhesive Compositions/Superglue” and began refining the product for commercial use. His company packaged the adhesive as “Eastman 910” and it was marketed by Kodak in 1958. Later it became known as Super Glue and Coover gained some celebrity, appearing on television in the show “I’ve Got a Secret,” where he lifted the host, Garry Moore, off the ground using a single drop of the substance. (MITWikipedia)

Coover received numerous awards including induction into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2004 and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2010.  Harry Coover died of natural causes at his home in Kingsport, Tennessee, on March 26, 2011.