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Harry Coover (1917–2011): The Brilliant Mind Behind Super Glue

Harry Coover was a renowned inventor and chemist who revolutionized the world with his groundbreaking creation of super glue. Born on March 6, 1917, in Newark, Delaware, he left an indelible mark on the field of adhesive technology. Through his exceptional intellect and unwavering determination, Coover cemented his legacy as an innovator par excellence.

Born and Bred for Greatness

Harry Wesley Coover Jr. was born in the small town of Newark, Delaware. From an early age, he exhibited an inquisitive nature and a natural aptitude for science. His insatiable curiosity led him to experiment with various chemicals, often leaving his parents both fascinated and concerned.

Coover’s passion for chemistry grew exponentially during his high school years. His exceptional performance in science classes caught the attention of his teachers, who encouraged him to pursue higher education in the field. Little did they know that this enthusiastic high school student would go on to revolutionize the world of adhesives.

A True American

Harry Coover was a proud American, deeply rooted in his love for his country. His achievements in the field of chemistry brought fame and recognition not only to himself but also to the United States. As a patriotic individual, he strived to make a difference through his groundbreaking inventions, thereby showcasing the spirit of American innovation to the world.

A World of Sticky Success

Coover’s ingenuity led to the creation of a new type of adhesive that would reshape the way we bond materials together. In the 1940s, while working as a chemist for Eastman Kodak Company, he stumbled upon cyanoacrylate, later known as super glue. Initially, the compound was discarded due to its adhesive properties. However, Coover recognized its potential and eventually patented it in 1959.

With the introduction of super glue to the market, Coover’s invention quickly became a household name. Its strength, versatility, and fast-drying properties made it a favorite among hobby enthusiasts, carpenters, and even NASA astronauts. Coover’s creation truly stuck around and left an indelible mark on various industries.

A Pioneer in Adhesive Technology

Harry Coover’s contribution to the world of adhesives cannot be overstated. His tireless efforts and groundbreaking inventions earned him several prestigious awards and accolades throughout his career.

Awards and Honors

  • Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2004
  • Received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2010
  • Honored with the Perkin Medal in 2009

Coover’s genius extended beyond super glue. He held numerous patents and made significant contributions to various fields, including dentistry, optometry, and even military technology.

Alma Mater

Coover’s academic journey played a crucial role in honing his scientific skills. He attended Hobart College in Geneva, New York, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He later pursued his master’s and doctoral degrees in physical chemistry from Cornell University.


During his career, Coover worked for several esteemed institutions and organizations, including Eastman Kodak Company, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Bureau of Standards. His collaboration with these institutions allowed him to explore new avenues and make groundbreaking discoveries.

Unraveling a Life of Innovation and Achievement

Harry Coover’s unparalleled contributions and achievements garnered him global recognition in the scientific community. However, like all great minds, his journey eventually came to an end. Sadly, on March 26, 2011, Coover passed away at the age of 94. His scientific legacy lives on, inspiring future generations of inventors and scientists to push the boundaries of what is possible.


Harry Coover was a visionary. His invention of super glue shaped the modern world in countless ways. Through his relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge, indomitable spirit, and uncanny ability to think outside the box, Coover changed the adhesive industry forever. His genius, coupled with his patriotism and unwavering dedication to American innovation, leaves an enduring legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How did Harry Coover discover super glue?

A: While working as a chemist for Eastman Kodak Company, Coover stumbled upon cyanoacrylate, the compound that would later be known as super glue. Initially discarded, Coover recognized its extraordinary adhesive properties and filed a patent for it in 1959.

Q: What made super glue so revolutionary?

A: Super glue revolutionized the adhesive industry due to its remarkable strength, versatility, and fast-drying properties. It allowed for easy bonding of various materials, from wood and metal to glass and plastic, making it a favorite among DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Q: What awards did Harry Coover receive for his contributions?

A: Coover’s invaluable contributions garnered him numerous prestigious awards and honors. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2004, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2010, and was honored with the Perkin Medal in 2009.

Q: Did Harry Coover invent anything other than super glue?

A: Yes, Harry Coover held multiple patents and made significant contributions in various fields, including dentistry, optometry, and military technology. His brilliant mind and innovative spirit led him to explore new territories and make groundbreaking discoveries.

Q: What impact did Harry Coover’s inventions have on society?

A: Coover’s inventions, particularly the creation of super glue, had a profound impact on society. Not only did it revolutionize the adhesive industry, but it also simplified tasks for countless individuals, ranging from repairing household items to enabling advancements in aerospace technology.

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