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Liquid Paper Was Invented by a Monkee's Mother

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• Bette Graham's Story
The Life of Bette Nesmith Graham

Liquid Paper was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, whose son Michael Nesmith was a member of the American rock group The Monkees.

Bette Graham was 17 when she got a job at a Texas bank as a secretary, even though she didn't know how to type. She was young and energetic, and she worked. The company she worked for sent her to secretary school, and she was typing in no time at all.

The 1950s had seen the widespread of the electric typewriter, which typed faster but also allowed for more mistakes. Also, the ribbon in the electric typewriter made it harder to erase mistakes than the ribbons in the manual typewriters.

One holiday season, Bette Graham was a bank window and, in a flash of brilliance, decided to create a paint to cover up typewriting mistakes.

It worked! In 1956, she sold her first bottles of her new product, which she called "Mistake Out." She made it in her kitchen, and her son Michael and his friends bottled it in the family garage.

By 1957, she was selling 100 bottles a month and had gotten a patent for her product, which she now called "Liquid Paper." Sales continued to grow, as more and more people heard about Liquid Paper, through word-of-mouth and by reading about it in magazines.

In the 1960s, Bette Graham bought a machine to help her manufacture Liquid Paper. In 1971, she sold 2 million bottles. Michael, in the meantime, had moved to Los Angeles and formed The Monkees, who went on to have many popular hits, including a TV show.

In 1979, Bette Graham sold the company for $47.5 million dollars and royalties on every bottle until the year 2000. She didn't live to see the end of the contract, dying in 1980.

Her invention continues to be used everyday by secretaries and other people in the office and wherever typewriters are used.

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 Graphics courtesy of Art Today

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