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The History of Super Glue

Super glue was technically invented the same man! In 1942, Dr. Harry Coover was working for Eastman-Kodak’s chemical division in Rochester, New York. Coover was part of a team tasked with researching chemicals called cyanoacrylates with the goal of finding a way to make a clear plastic that could be used to manufacture precision gunsights for World War II soldiers. While working with the chemicals, Coover and the other researchers discovered that they were extremely sticky and bonded with nearly any surface they came into contact with. The team dismissed the chemicals and moved on with their research. In 1951, Coover was transferred to Kodak’s chemical plant in Kingsport, Tennessee where he oversaw a group tasked with researching heat-resistant polymers for jet airplane canopies. Coover rediscovered cyanoacrylates and this time, he focused more heavily on their unique properties, namely, their ability to bond without heat or pressure. He and his team tested the substance on various items in their lab and each time, the items being tested became permanently bonded. Coover was awarded a patent for his “Alcohol-Catalyzed Cyanoacrylate Adhesive Compositions/Superglue” and began refining the product for commercialization. Kodak released the product in 1958, calling it “Eastman 910.” Later, it became known as “Super Glue.” Coover became something of a celebrity and did multiple television appearances to promote the product. During the Vietnam War, it became apparent that the cyanoacrylates in the glue could be used to seal war wounds and stop the bleeding until injured soldiers could be transported to medical facilities for treatment. The FDA eventually approved cyanoacrylates for certain medical uses, including rejoining veins and arteries during surgery; sealing bleeding ulcers, punctures, and lesions; stopping uncontrollable bleeding of certain soft organs; and for use during dental surgery. Over time, super glue also became a household staple for fixing broken objects. Various brands now exist, each with a slightly different chemical formula, but they are all commonly known by the name "super glue" since the original Super Glue product was so influential. Today, super glue remains a staple product and can be found everywhere from household supply closets to medical settings to survival kits.

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