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03/27/2011

Harry Wesley Coover Jr., considered the inventor of super glue, dies at 94

March 27, 2011 |  8:10 pm

CooverHarry Wesley Coover Jr., known as the inventor of super glue, has died. He was 94.

Coover died Saturday at his home in Kingsport, Tenn, said his grandson, Adam Paul of South Carolina. No cause was given.

Coover was working for Tennessee Eastman Co., a division of Eastman Kodak, when an accident helped lead to the popular adhesive being discovered, Paul said. An assistant was distressed that some new prisms were ruined when they were glued together by the substance.

Coover and another researcher recognized the potential for the strong adhesive, and it was first sold in 1958, according to the Super Glue Corp.'s website.

Cyanoacrylate, the chemical name for the glue, was first uncovered in 1942 in a search for materials to make clear plastic gun sights for World War II. But the compound stuck to everything, which is why it was rejected by researchers, according to the website.

Coover was born in Newark, Del., and received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Hobart College in New York in 1941. He earned a master's degree in 1942 and a doctorate in 1944, both from Cornell University.

He worked his way up to vice president of the chemical division for development for Eastman Kodak. Coover and the team of chemists he worked with became prolific patent holders, with more than 460.

Coover was awarded a National Medal of Technology and Innovation last year by President Obama.

--Associated Press

Photo: Harry Coover at his home in 2004. Credit: Associated Press 

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