Bette Nesmith Graham

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Bette Nesmith Graham

Inventor of Tipp-Ex

When we write with a pen and make a mistake, we just shake up our little bottle of liquid paper and paint out the mistake, wait for it to dry and write over.

Before personal computers with printers were invented, we used to use typewriters. If you made a mistake you had two possible solutions: either type an X over the mistake, or remove the paper, throw it in the bin and start again.

It was the secretary Bette Nesmith Graham, born in Dallas in 1924, who put an end to this waste of time and paper. She was an artist, but had recently divorced and had a little boy to bring up so she had to find work outside the art world. She learned to type and got a job at the Texas Bank & Trust. She became so fed up with having to waste paper every time she made a mistake that she decided to apply her knowledge in painting. So she mixed tempera with water in a blender and filled small bottles labelled: “Mistake Out”.

Soon she was making a growing profit and manufacturing spread worldwide. Thanks to this idea, she was able to set up two foundations, one to support the welfare of women, and another to promote efforts in business and the arts.