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May 24, 2008

Liquid Paper

Did you know...
You don't have to graduate from high school to become famous, you just have to need something so bad you set out to invent it and that's just what
Bette Nesmith Graham, who was born in 1924 in Dallas, Texas, did.

She dropped out of high school at the age of seventeen and went to secretarial school. By 1951, she had worked her way up to the position of executive secretary for W.W. Overton, the Chairman of the Board of the Texas Bank and Trust. It was at this time that Graham and her colleagues at the bank began experiencing trouble with the new IBM electric typewriters.

Tired of having to retype entire pages because of one small error, Graham who had an unstoppable attitude was determined to find a more efficient alternative. Little did she know her frustration would lead to her becoming one of the most famous women inventors of the 20th century.

The idea for the "Mistake Out" product came to her while watching painters at the bank, if they made a mistake they just covered it up with more paint.
So quick-thinking Bette copied their technique by using a white, water-based tempera paint to cover her typing errors. Soon every secretary at the bank was begging for her cover-up.

She sold her first batch of "Mistake Out" in 1956, and soon she was working full-time to produce and bottle it from her North Dallas home. Her son Michael – who would later achieve fame as a member of the pop group The Monkees – and his friends helped to fill the growing number of orders for Mistake Out.

Bette continued experimenting with the substance until she achieved the perfect combination of paint and several other chemicals. The refined product was renamed "Liquid Paper" in 1958 and, was in great demand, Graham applied for a patent and a trademark that same year.

Bette Graham's Liquid Paper Company experienced tremendous growth over the next decade and by 1967, the company had its own corporate headquarters and automated production plan. Sales were in excess of one million units per year. In 1975, she moved operations into a 35,000-sq. ft. international Liquid Paper headquarters building in Dallas. She sold the company to Gillette Corporation four years later, just six months before her death in 1980.

Will computers put a damper on the sales of liquid paper or will the demand still keep it on the shelves in the stores...? What do you think?


Chessmaster said...

Very nice post, in less then five minutes i was able to learn a bit on the beginnings of liquid paper.
Thanks for sharing.

Janna said...

You raise a good question, regarding whether or not computers will eventually render this product obsolete.
I hope not.
It does work for handwritten ink as well, so perhaps it will live on in that capacity.

st_hart said...

nice post. the liquid paper is really a great invention.
well, i think computers will reduce the demand of liquid paper, but we will still need it, at least for handwritten works. i guess students will always use it.