Paperstone – Office life, work and fun

What Links Correction Fluid and MTV?


Here’s a stationery story with a musical twist. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

In the far off days before word processors existed, when documents were bashed out on typewriters, making a mistake was a BIG problem.

There was no ‘delete’ key, so red-faced typists had to use an ink rubber which could damage the paper and jam their typewriter with rubber dust – it wasn’t a great solution.

Then one day, a lady called Bette Nesmith Graham had a brainwave.

Bette had lied about her qualifications in order to get a job as a typist and couldn’t really type very well, so she often had to cover up her mistakes.

One day she was watching an artist painting a sign outside in the street. The artist had made a mistake and was painting over the error.

“Aha!”, thought Bette. “That’s a great idea”.

So she put some water-based tempera white paint in a bottle and took her watercolour paintbrush into the office. She began to paint over her typing mistakes.

Bette sought the help of her son’s chemistry teacher to make improvements to her correction fluid, which was becoming very popular with her colleagues, and then she patented it.

Originally known as ‘Mistake Out’, the product grew in fame and Bette change its name to ‘Liquid Paper’. By 1970 the company was massive and Bette became a rich woman, eventually selling the business to the Gillette Corporation for $47,000,000.

She passed her entrepreneurial spirit on to her musician son Michael, who became a pop star as one of the Monkees.

When Bette died, Michael inherited her wealth and invested it in PopClips, a TV show which played pop videos. PopClips developed into the concept of MTV.

So all of the baby boomers who remember Liquid Paper and enjoy music videos are indebted to the brainy Nesmith family!



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