Harry Coover life and biography

Harry Coover picture, image, poster

Harry Coover biography

Date of birth : 1919-03-06
Date of death : 2011-03-19
Birthplace : Newark, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-28
Credited as : chemist, adhesive properties of certain cyanoacrylates, Super Glue

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American chemist Harry Coover discovered the adhesive properties of certain cyanoacrylates in 1951, leading to development of a quick-drying and strong-bonding paste now known as Super Glue. At the time he was working for Eastman Kodak, and attempting to make an improved eye shield for precision gunsights, when, to determine the refractive index of ethyl cyanoacrylate, he placed the material between the two prisms of a refractometer -- permanently sealing the prisms together and ruining the expensive lab instrument. Kodak began marketing Coover's accident as an all-purpose adhesive in 1958, under the brand name Eastman 910, so named because, as Coover explained, "You could count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and it was bonded."

During the Vietnam War, Coover developed a cyanoacrylate spray based on the same compound, which was sprayed onto soldiers' serious wounds to quickly halt bleeding, so the injured could be transported to medical facilities instead of morgues. Cyanoacrylates are now used for sealing dental repairs, lesions, and bleeding ulcers, and for suture-free surgery. Coover's numerous other patents are in such areas as graft polymerization, organophosphorus chemistry, and olefin polymerization.

Coover held 460 patents, and Super Glue was just one of his many discoveries. He viewed "programmed innovation," a management methodology emphasizing research and development, among his most important work. Implemented at Kodak, programmed innovation resulted in the introduction of 320 new products and sales growth from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion. Coover later formed an international management consulting practice, advising corporate clients around the world on programmed innovation methodology.

Coover received the Southern Chemist Man of the Year Award for his outstanding accomplishments in individual innovation and creativity. He also held the Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management, the Maurice Holland Award and was a medalist for the Industrial Research Institute. In 2004, Coover was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. In 2010, Coover received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Coover died of natural causes at his home in Kingsport, Tennessee, on March 26, 2011.

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