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Harry Coover

Harry CooverAKA Harry Wesley Coover, Jr.

Born: 6-Mar-1919
Birthplace: Newark, DE
Died: 19-Mar-2011
Location of death: Kingsport, TN
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Invented Super Glue

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.

Father: Harry Wesley Coover
Wife: Muriel Zumbach (m. 1941, d. 2005, two sons, one daughter)
Son: Harry Wesley Coover III
Daughter: Melinda Coover Paul
Son: Stephen Coover

    University: BS, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    University: MS Chemistry, Cornell University
    University: PhD Chemistry, Cornell University

    National Inventors Hall of Fame 2004
    National Medal of Technology and Innovation 2009
    American Chemical Society
    National Academy of Engineering
    Kodak Vice President (1973-84)
    Kodak Chemist (1944-73)

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