Super Glue Inventor Dead at 94

Harry Wesley Coover Jr. never got rich off his most famous invention
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2011 6:22 AM CDT
Super Glue Inventor Dead at 94
In this Nov. 17, 2010 photo, Harry W. Coover is shown at a ceremony for recipients of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The name Harry Wesley Coover Jr., who died Saturday at the age of 94, might not ring a bell, but you've almost certainly heard of his most famous invention: Super Glue. Coover first stumbled upon the adhesive (formal name: cyanoacrylates) while working on clear plastic gun-sights during World War II; he discovered that cyanoacrylates wouldn't work for his purposes since they stuck to ... everything. He later experimented with the compound again when working at Eastman Kodak's laboratory in 1951, and seven years later Eastman 910—later known as Super Glue—went on sale.

Kodak, however, could not capitalize on Super Glue and sold it to National Starch in 1980. Nor did Coover become rich off the invention; it only became commercially successful after the patents expired. Coover held 460 patents by the time he died, but he remained proud of Super Glue, particularly because it was used during the Vietnam War to stop the bleeding on injured soldiers. “I think he got a kick out of being Mr. Super Glue,” his daughter tells the New York Times. “Who doesn’t love Super Glue?” (More super glue stories.)

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