A secretary, typist, model, and artist, Nette Nesmith Graham worked as a typist at the Bank of Texas. She used to make a lot of typos which made her think of a solution to correct these typing mistakes. It was called Liquid Paper and the patent was sold for 47.5 Million Dollars.
The Full Story of How Liquid Paper Was Invented
It was the 1950s, Many of the women were struggling to get a job. Most of the women learned the skill of typewriting. Since it was a desk job and woman-friendly, it was quite convenient for women to work in this industry.
Bette Nesmith Graham was also one of those women who were working as a typewriter. Later on, she was promoted to secretary amid her exceptional typing skills. Her boss was very rude and a cold person, making her job harder than it had to be.
Since she was divorced making her a single mom, she had to take care of her son Michael. She had to come up with an excuse to continue the job she had.
The sole reason why liquid paper and how it was invented is a bit yet understandable. Let’s find out how it was invented and what caused Nette Graham to invent such an essential product.
How Did Nette Nesmith Graham Invent Liquid Paper?
If we were to put this scenario into a one-liner, we’d say she made a lot of mistakes. She used to make a lot of mistakes in her writing. She had to support her family and this job was paying her bills. She was 30 at that time and was making $300 a month working at Texas Bank. She needed to find a way to hide her mistakes or at least correct them.
We are used to the technology of today. We take modern technology for granted. Before the invention of a word processor (like MS Word), people used typewriters to type and print stuff on paper.
Once something was written on the paper, we could not remove it. Think of pen and paper. Ince we write something on paper with a pen, it is unremovable. The same was the case with typewriters and Nette’s silly mistakes.
She would type something on the paper via a typewriter, and some mistakes were made. These regularly occurring mistakes were getting on her nerves.
These mistakes were getting on her head and making her job hard. She was actually afraid of losing her job because of these mistakes.
She tried different methods to correct the words but she was in vain. Finally, she came up with a magical way of correcting the mistakes she made. It was a White Tempera Paint which she used with a watercolor brush.
This invention made her life easier. Thanks to this, she was able to keep her job.
How Did Everyone Know About Liquid Paper?
Now the question is, Did she know that she made a magical invention that would then make her filthy rich? Well, let’s move on to it.
Now that the liquid paper was invented, Nette actually wasn’t much impressed by its capabilities and uses in the industry. She used it very often. Whenever she made a typo, she would put a little amount of tempera paint which was water-based, to match the color of the stationery which she used at her workplace.
She put the tempera paint into a bottle and took it to the office. She used this stuff to correct her typos and got addicted because it was working so well for her. She didn’t have to worry about her typos again. She used this trick in private so that her boss would never notice.
It wasn’t so late when another secretary saw Nette doing this trick. The other secretary found this useful and asked Nette for some of this liquid. Nette Graham went home and found a green bottle at home for her. She labeled this green bottle “Mistake Out” and gave it to her.
When word got out in the office, all of the other secretaries in the bank asked Graham for some of that magical liquid too.
What Led her to Found the Company “Mistake Out”?
As we know Graham was an artist as well, she worked hard to refine her recipe for this magical product in her small kitchen lab.
She didn’t have much knowledge of chemistry which was needed to refine its formula even further. First, she would try and improve its formula by taking help from a formula she found at a local library in the city, but it wasn’t working out so well.
Finally, she asked for some assistance from a high school chemistry teacher and an employee from a local paint company.
She was selling so much of that product. Due to its high efficiency and usefulness, everyone was loving this newly invented product called liquid paper.
Founding the Mistake Out company
After all, she decided to start her own company which she named “ Mistake Out”. When there was an order, her son Michael would fill bottles with the tempera paint. Michael would also take help from his friends to fill those bottles for her mom’s new yet booming business.
Despite her founding a new company, the business wasn’t so well for Graham in the beginning, forcing her to work day and night shifts to earn her bread.
She Founded Mistake Out
It took her some years to finally make her company a success. In 1958, she left her typing job at the bank when the Mistake Out company was becoming a great success.
At that time, her newly invented liquid paper was so popular, IBM wanted some of that. She had a business meeting with IBM, But they denied her offer. Later, they developed her own product instead of buying some from Graham. (IMB invented Correcting Selectric in 1973).
General Electric ordered her to deliver 500 bottles of liquid paper.
There are some stories that say that the bank fired her because she was signing her own name with Mistake Out company (really?). On the other hand, the Gihon Foundation reported that she simply was not fired from the bank. They say that she started working part-time and then finally left the job when her company was succeeding.
After she left her job, she became a full-time business owner of a successful company. Later on, she applied for a patent for this invention and changed the name of her company to Liquid Paper Company.
The success of the Liquid Paper Company
After leaving her full job as a typist at the bank, she was working day and night to take her company to a new horizon. She devoted all of her time to selling liquid paper to her regular clients.
She worked hard to move her business forward. She wanted to move this business from a small kitchen to a whole new level.
She started with moving her production system from her kitchen lab to her backyard. Later on, she moved her production into a 4-room house.
Later, she married a frozen food salesman, Robert Graham. Her husband took an active role in growing the Liquid Paper Company.
In 1967, her company was turned into a million-dollar business. She teamed up with other people and moved her small production into a big production plant in Dallas. She also made a corporate headquarters in Dallas that had 19 employees in 1968. She sold a whopping one million bottles that year.
The Liquid Paper Company moved into a 35 thousand square foot international building located in Dallas. It was 1975 by the way. This move enables the company to make 500 bottles in a minute. She divorced her husband in the same year.
A year later in 1975, they were selling so much that even their advertising budget was over 1 million dollars a year. This intensive marketing led to selling over 25 million bottles that year.
Bette Graham was a wealthy woman thanks to her multi-million dollar business. She founded two charities.
In 1976, she established the Gihon Foundation. Its whole purpose was to support women in art. They would collect paintings from women and supports them.
Then, two years later she established Bette Clair McMurray Foundation in 1978. They would pay women and support them by any means possible.
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Later on, she stepped down as the big woman in the company. This made her ex-husband take over the company. She was humiliated by this company and her ex-husband. They wouldn’t let her take big decisions for the company. They even changed the original formula for liquid paper just to humiliate her.
Did She Get Her Company Back?
Yes, she did. Although she was an old woman and fighting with other health issues, she fought for her right and succeeded in getting her company back in 1979.
Bette Sold the Liquid Paper Company for $47.5 Million
Bette restored her royalties and sold the Liquid Paper Company to Gillette for 47.5 Million dollars.
She did that to use this money as a tool to help the women in need. We said earlier that she founded two charitable organizations, she funded those charities to find work and new ways of earning money for the women in need.
She even offered scholarships to mature women. She would also arrange shelter for those in need. This initiative was especially for women.
After six months of selling Liquid Paper, Graham died on 12 May 1980.
Bette was a struggling and hard working single mom. She worked day and night shifts as secretary at Texas Bank making $300 a month for her son Michael to bear the expenses. She would make a lot of typos using a typewriter which made her life miserable.
She was afraid of losing her job if she hadn’t come up with a solution to erase and correct her typos in the prinitng paper. Thanks to her art and painting background, she came up with a solution to correct mistakes on a printing paper. This solution became so popular that she left her job at the bank and worked full time building her company from the ground up.
She came up with a solution to correct these mistakes by using tempera paint. This was later known as the discovery of liquid paper which was totally based on mistakes hence, the company, “Mistakes Out”.
Later on, her company became a great success and she eventually sold the Liquid Paper Company to Gillette for 47.5 Millions Dollars.
Who Invented White Out Tape?
Bette Nesmisth Graham was the inventor of White Out. She used to work at the Texas Bank in the 1950s. LAter on, she left her job adn worked full at building her Liquid Paper Business.
How was White Out Invented?
Graham founded her company and originally named it Mistake Out. It was the 1950s. Later on, she renamed her compnay White Out becasue of some patent issues, naming conventions and marketing purposes.
Which Item was Invented by a Secretary and Later Sold for $47 Million Dollars?
Liquid Paper was invented by a secretary, Bette Nesmith Graham, working at the Texas Bank for $300 a month as a typist. She invented Liquid Paper and later it was sold for $47.5 million dollars to Gillette.
According to her own biography, she wasn’t fired from her job for doing so. She actually started working part time at the bank when her company started to grow and eventually left her job at the bank to focus full-time on her company.
Who invented tippex liquid?
Tippix was originally named Tipp-Ex at first. It was developed in 1965 by Tipp-Ex GmbH. It wa a German company who developed this liquid. Its name tipp-ex was given to this liquid for a reason. In German, Tippen means is ‘to type’ while ‘ex’ means ‘no more’ in Latin.
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