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Harry W. Coover Jr.

by Susan J. Ainsworth
May 16, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 20

Credit: AP
Credit: AP

Harry W. Coover Jr., 94, the Eastman Kodak chemist who invented Super Glue, died at his home in Kingsport, Tenn., on March 26.

Born in Newark, Del., Coover received a B.S. from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., before earning M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University.

He joined Eastman Kodak as a chemist in 1944, and served as vice president of the company from 1973 until 1984.

The invention of the compound that would become Super Glue resulted from Coover’s work with cyanoacrylates as possible materials to make clear-plastic gun sights. When the compounds were deemed too sticky for the intended application, the cyanoacrylates were shelved for six years until Coover recognized that one of the compounds functioned as a unique adhesive. Kodak marketed the compound as Super Glue beginning in 1958.

Coover later founded a consulting firm and served as president of Loctite until 2004. He was credited with 460 patents in areas such as organophosphorus chemistry and olefin polymerization. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1945.

Coover was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the National Medal of Technology & Innovation from President Barack Obama in 2010.

Coover’s wife, Muriel, died in 2005. He is survived by a daughter, Melinda Paul; sons, Harry and Stephen; and four grandchildren.


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