We all know what that bright white liquid in the tiny bottle with a little brush is used for, but there are many people that do not know the history behind white-out liquid paper. Every secretary will make a mistake now and then while typing and using an old-fashioned typewriter and we can all thank Bette Nesmith Graham for coming up with a simple and lifesaving invention that made this an office-supply history: Liquid Paper.
In Dallas Texas back in 1951, Bette Clair McMurry was a high school dropout and at the age of 19, married Warren Nesmith. She got a job as a secretary at a local bank and attended night school in order to earn her GED. Bette Nesmith gave birth to a son, Michael while her husband Warren was away fighting in World War II. Her son, Michael, became a guitarist for the 1960’s rock band, The Monkees. Not long after her husband returned from the war, the couple divorced forcing Bette to raise her son alone.
While working and doing her typing on the electric typewriters that they used, Bette and the few other secretaries that she worked with were always making mistakes while typing and whenever she attempted to erase the mistakes using an eraser from a pencil, all of her hard worked looked smeared and had a lot of black smudges.
One day while Bette was sitting at her desk watching the painters, she noticed that every time they made a mistake, they would take a white substance and smear this on the mistake and then wipe it away. She asked herself why a similar product couldn’t be used to wipe away mistakes made in ink from a typewriter.
She started using her kitchen and garage as both a laboratory and factory, slowly Bette developed a product that people started to buy. She continued her work as a secretary even though she as not that good at it. Nesmith came up with a very simple formula that she began making in batches just for herself to use at work. Using her kitchen blender she mixed up some tempera water-based paint, and then she added tint to it in order for it to match the stationery she used at work. She took some of it with her to work and when she did make a mistake while typing, all she did was take a watercolor brush, then dipped it into her magic solution and wipe her mistakes away.
The formula was amazing and wiped away mistakes just like magic. In fact, the solution worked so well, that Bette’s boss never even noticed any mistakes she had corrected on any papers she typed. Soon afterwards, the word spread around the company where Bette worked about her magical solution and began asking her if they could borrow some of the fluid, so she began making up bottles, placing labels on the front that read “Mistake Out,” and gave them to her friends.
Bette taught herself business methods, promotion, and researched all she could until finally she was very pleased with the product she had created was really worth it all. She named her product, Mistake Out and offered it to IBM to buy, but they wanted no part of it. This did not hinder Bette so she after she received a patent for the solution, she changed the name from Mistake Out to Liquid Paper and kept selling in her garage for the next 17 years. Bette Nesmith married Robert Graham in 1962 and he began helping her with the business and by 1967, Liquid Paper had turned into a million-dollar enterprise. In 1968, Nesmith Graham opened up a plant of her own and hired twenty employees and employees and that same year, over one million bottles was sold. By 1968 she was finally seeing a profit building.
Bette and Robert Graham divorced in 1975 and she obtained a 35,000 square foot building in Dallas Texas to use as the headquarters for Liquid Paper and by the end of that next year, the company had a 1.5 million earning. Bette Nesmith Graham always encouraged all of her employees to be a part of the decisions that were to be made throughout the company now and then and she also responsible for setting up a library and a child-care center right there on the grounds around the plant. Bette also founded the Gihon Foundation in 1976 and the Bette Clair McMurray Foundation in 1978 both of which are to help women in need. Bette sold her company to the Gillette Corporation in 1979 for $47.5 million. In 1980 at the age of 56, she passed away.
I did not receive any incentives or payment to write this review about this product and I am not employed with the company.