Nearly every household and apartment throughout the nation has at least one box of matches stored in a drawer for emergencies, such as when the power goes out. With one swift strike, matches can bring light when we are enveloped in darkness. In 1826, a British pharmacist by the name of John Walker was mixing together chemicals when he noticed a solidified lump had accumulated at the bottom of his stick. He attempted to scrape the nondescript lump off the stick when it suddenly burst into flame. Ambitious Walker immediately sought marketing the accidental invention as “Friction Lights.” The original matches were made from cardboard, but Walker altered his invention to be three-inch sticks sold in boxes with a strip of sandpaper for striking.
Unfortunately for Walker, he never learned the importance of copyright, failing to patent his invention. This led to a slew of copycats who attempted to steal the idea, including Samuel Jones, who basically replicated “Friction Lights” and called his product “Lucifers.” The earliest matches were popular, but posed some dangers, and it wasn’t until a non-poisonous red phosphorous — discovered by Johan Edvard Lundstron — was added that matches became the product we see today.
Glue is great and all, but we know that Super Glue is the product we all turn to when we really want to make something stick. Super Glue is more formally known as cyanoacrylate, and it is a potent adhesive that works swiftly and allows long-lasting adhesion. In his New York Time’s bestseller, Dirty Daddy, comedian and former Full House patriarch, Bob Saget, spoke of a fellow comedian friend who had been going through hard financial times using Super Glue to fix a broken tooth. When he chipped the tooth, he used Super Glue to glue the broken fragment back on, as going to the dentist was not an option at the time. I’m not saying you should choose superglue over medical assistance, but the story is being recalled here to illustrate just how powerful this sticky substance really is.
Super Glue may have never come to fruition, however, had it not been for Dr. Harry Coover. In 1942, Coover was parrying with different ways to make clear plastic gun sights to aid Allied soldiers during World War II. One product was extremely potent as an adhesive, but it couldn’t be used for gun sights. Coover also found the creation to be “too sticky” and discarded it as a fluke. It wasn’t until 1951 when Coover was working at Eastman Kodak that he revisited his past invention. While he was supervising a project on jet canopies, one of his workers — Fred Joyner — used the archaic Super Glue between a pair of refractor prisms, where it was found that the product could bond items at an extremely fast rate and was also resistant to heat. In 1958, Super Glue was sold with the original name “Eastman #910,” but — noting the lackluster effect such a name would have on marketing — the product was eventually renamed.