Monday, 28 March 2011


My obituary of Harry Coover, the man who invented (or 'jnvented' as the Grauniad website has it) super glue will be in Friday's Guardian, but is up on the website now; you can link to it here. I suppose between duct tape and super glue there isn't a whole lot that can't be mended, unless you're the tin woodsman.

What was most interesting to me, but which was cut from the piece as published, was the way Super Glue was used in Vietnam: sprayed over open wounds to seal them, which enabled medics to transport soldiers to hospitals where they could receive more complicated treatment. This probably saved thousands of lives. I do recall having a head wound, caused by weapons escalation in one of our childhood 'rock fights', which was sealed after I'd received two layers of stitches with something which must have been very much like that; this would have been around 1963.

There's an interesting piece to be done following the exclusivity of super glue, and the stuff that's marketed today as 'original' super glue. But Coover went from Eastman-Kodak after he retired to Loctite (formerly American Sealants), who had run with the Eastman formula; Eastman later sold their rights to National Starch, having basically failed to profit on it while Coover held the patent. Which, if you're interested, was US Patent 2,768,109, for 'Alcohol-Catalyzed Cyanacrylate Adhesive Compositions/Superglue.

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