The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

(Continued from front page)

• Maria Beasley’s first invention was patented in 1878 for a barrel-hooping machine, which enabled manufacturers to make 1,500 barrels a day, an invention that netted Beasley a small fortune. She also was responsible for a coffee-brewing system using a filter made of thick, absorbent paper punched with holes. She patented the filtering method in 1908 and founded a company that is still in existence today. Foot warmers, cooking pans, a steam generator and a device that keeps trains from being derailed were all patented by Beasley. But it was her invention of the life raft, patented in 1882 that made her famous. She improved upon her raft design twice, and obtained patents in Britain as well as the U.S. It was Beasley’s life rafts that were used on the Titanic.

• It was during a visit to New York City in 1902 that Alabama native Mary Anderson conceived the idea of a vehicle window cleaning device. While riding the trolley on a cold drizzly day, Mary noticed that the driver had to open the windows of the streetcar in order to see. Upon returning home, she devised a hand-operated device with a swinging arm and rubber blade operated by the driver from inside the vehicle. She was granted Patent No. 743,801 in 1903 for her invention. By 1916, windshield wipers were standard equipment for American automobiles. Unfortunately, Mary was unable to cash in on her idea to any great degree. Manufacturing firms rejected her application, saying, “We do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant our undertaking its sale.” Having been granted a 17-year patent, it expired in 1920. In 1917, another woman, Charlotte Bridgwood patented the automatic wiper.

• Prior to World War II, office workers typed on manual typewriters, with ribbons that made erasing mistakes easy. However, with the widespread use of electric typewriters and their new carbon-film ribbons, errors could no longer be corrected with an eraser. In the early 1950s, Bette Nesmith Graham, a secretary at Texas Bank and Trust, observed painters decorating the bank’s windows for the holidays. When a mistake was made, the painters painted over the blunder with another layer of paint. Graham tried using a white, water-based tempera paint on her typing errors, and the idea of white-out was born. She continued to experiment with the concoction and in 1956, she sold her first batch of “Mistake Out.” It didn’t take long until she was bottling the product full-time, working from her home in Dallas, enlisting the help of her son and his friends. By 1958, Graham had a patent in hand and had renamed the invention Liquid Paper. Nine years later, she had a new corporate headquarters and production plant, with annual sales of more than a million units. Graham maintained the company until 1979 when she sold it to the Gillette Corporation for $47.5 million. Sad to say, Bette passed away just six months later at age 56.

• Dr. Guiliana Tesoro was an organic chemist who worked in the fiber and textile industry. With 125 patents to her credit, we are in debt to Dr. Tesoro for flame-resistant fabrics, static-resistant fibers, and permanent press textiles. Born in Italy, Tesoro immigrated to the United States in 1939 when she was denied admittance to Italy’s university system under their Fascist Racial Laws. She attended Yale University, graduating at the young age of 21.