Liquid Paper

What does musician Michael Nesmith, of Monkees fame have to do with correcting fluid? Well, his mother invented it! I usually just backspace and correct my typing mistake but, back in the day, there were typewriters and starting over was your only way to cleanly correct a mistaken key stroke. Even now, if something is already printed, and re-printing is not a choice, correction fluid or tape can come in very handy.

Bette Nesmith Graham, born Bette Clair McMurray, in Dallas, Texas March 23, 1924 had a son, Michael, with Warren Audrey Nesmith, and was divorced in 1946. She worked at Texas Bank and Trust as the executive secretary to the chairman of the board of the institution. To earn extra pay she would paint holiday windows at the bank. She took a lot of dictation and typed up papers and letters for her boss. When she made mistakes, re-typing the whole letter was just too inefficient for her.

…with lettering, an artist never corrects by erasing, but always paints over the error. So I decided to use what artists use. I put some tempera water-based paint in a bottle and took my watercolor brush to the office. I used it to correct my mistakes.

Bette Nesmith Graham

She could use this tempera water-based paint, match the color to the stationary being used, and correct a mistake and type over it. Soon another secretary wanted to use it so she found a bottle at home and gave her some. She started bottling it in her kitchen at home.

Bette set up her kitchen lab with assistance from a paint company employee and a chemistry teacher at a local school. In 1956 she started the Mistake Out Company with Michael, and her neighbors, helping fill customer orders. Soon this job consumed all her nights and weekends as orders poured into her house. She met with IBM, who turned down the opportunity to buy her company.

She became a full-time small business owner, applied for a patent, and changed the name to the Liquid Paper Company. In 1962, She married Robert Graham who helped her with the business that by 1967 had grown to a million dollar company. Liquid paper soon outgrew her home, backyard and shed so she moved it to her own plant in Dallas with 19 employees.

In 1975, Bette moved Liquid Paper into a 35,000 square foot building in Dallas. Now she could make 500 bottles in one minute. By 1979, they were making 25 million bottles a year and employing 500 people. Liquid Paper was so profitable that Gillette offered, and she accepted, 47.5 million dollars to purchase the company. Folks have found many uses for liquid Paper like correcting posters, forms, crossword puzzles or Sudoku, file folder tabs, and calendars. It is also “more green” to fix a printed page than to print it again.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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