Who invented the adhesive plaster

The history of the adhesive plaster began in 1882, when the German Paul Karl Boyersdorf applied natural rubber, pine resin, zinc oxide to a piece of linen cloth and named his invention an adhesive plaster (Greek leikos - "light", emplastron - "ointment"). Several years have passed since then ...

On a May day in 1890, at his home in the German city of Hamburg, 27-year-old pharmacist Oskar Troplowitz was looking through the latest issue of the specialized newspaper Pharmazeutische Zeitung. One of the advertisements caught the attention of a young man. It offered to urgently and inexpensively (for 70 thousand DM) to buy a small chemical-pharmaceutical factory together with a warehouse.

Troplowitz, who comes from a Jewish family that took root in Upper Silesia as early as the 17th century, dreamed of his own business all his life. Oscar was so interested in the sale offer that he decided to write a letter to the advertiser, in which he asked to clarify some of the details he was interested in. The answer was not long in coming. He received a letter from Paul Karl Beiersdorf, a well-known specialist in the pharmaceutical world and, in fact, the owner of the factory, just a couple of days later.

From the letter, Oscar learned how eight years ago a pharmacist made a truly revolutionary invention - he created the world's first bactericidal patch that can heal wounds without causing further infection or irritation of the skin. The patch was immediately patented and became the first building block in the foundation of the new Beiersdorf company.

However, inventing the patch was easier than getting people to buy it. The unconventional Beiersdorf simply had no idea how to market the product. When Beiersdorf met Troplowitz personally, the latter asked him a question: how much does it cost to advertise products. Beiersdorf replied that he was not engaged in any advertising and did not understand this issue at all.

Troplovitsa realized why all the unsold goods lay in a warehouse as a dead weight, and the Beiersdorf firm in the hands of an inept entrepreneur was gradually approaching financial collapse.

Troplowitz, who at the time was almost half Beiersdorf's junior, turned out to be the complete opposite of his older colleague. Young, energetic, accustomed to taking the maximum from life, Oskar Troplowitz was simply shocked by the approach to doing business in the company of Beiersdorf. When on October 1, 1890, both pharmacists ended all legal procedures for the transaction and shook hands, ideas for organizing a new business swarmed in the head of the new owner of Beiersdorf in hundreds. He already knew that he would launch such an advertising campaign that buyers would have no choice but to buy his products in batches.

Paul Beiersdorf himself devoted the rest of his life to pharmaceutical experiments in his private property in Alton. Then he got involved in some dubious deal and lost almost all his money, after which in June 1896 he committed suicide by poisoning himself.

For Troplovits, things were getting better and better. In 1892, he acquired new premises, in which he opened a trading floor. By the way, this building is still the head office of Beiersdorf.

Troplowitz worked on technology, increased output, and tried his best to minimize production costs. He offered cooperation to Beiersdorf's former partner, the renowned German dermatologist Paul Gerson Unna, who, together with Paul Beiersdorf, participated in the development of plasters.

In tandem, Troplowitz and Unna obtained one of the most important patents for Leukoplast, a product that is well known in modern pharmaceuticals as a bactericidal adhesive plaster. They managed to neutralize the irritating effect of a conventional patch by adding zinc oxide to its composition, which also gave the patch its modern white color.

There was only one last moment: using an advertising campaign to show the invention to the buyer and wait for his reaction. She did not keep herself waiting long - very soon Beiersdorf plasters began to be in great demand in Germany, and after a few years all over the world.

Another product that Troplowitz co-invented with Unna is Paraplast, a new type of medical patch made entirely of cotton.

In addition to medical ones, the Beiersdorf laboratory also received a number of technical plasters that were completely unsuitable for human skin, but turned out to be simply irreplaceable, for example, to seal a torn bicycle tire. Thus, on the basis of the new products received, a new division of the company was created, specializing in the production of insulating tapes.

In 1922 Troplowitz created the new Hansaplast brand. Leukoplast and Hansaplast were sold at fundamentally low prices. Adherence to these tactics helped Beiersdorf become a company of international importance relatively quickly.

And about the same time, some Johnson brothers: Robert and James offered doctors a non-irritating skin surgical tape with an adhesive made of zinc oxide, designed to hold a gauze bandage on the body.

We can say that humanity was lucky that Josephine Dixon - the wife of a cotton wool supplier for the Johnson firm Earl Dixon - was young and inexperienced in housekeeping. At every step, misfortune lay in wait for her: she would cut her finger with a kitchen knife, then she would burn herself, grabbing a hot frying pan.

A more enlightened husband could take Josephine to Freud's followers and find out the reason for her masochistic desire for self-destruction, but loving Earl patiently bandaged her hands and sealed her wounds with surgical tape, which he brought home from work. He knew how to provide first aid - his father and grandfather were doctors, but fiddling with the bandage required a lot of trouble, and most importantly, the presence of Earl himself was an almost impossible condition, given that half of Dixon's working time was traveling. Not wanting to leave Josephine at the mercy of his neighbors, Earl considered and revised the dressing procedure itself. The dressing should be held in place, easily and comfortably applied, and at the same time maintain sterility.

He placed a three-inch-wide surgical tape on the kitchen table, sticky side up, cut off a piece of gauze, and glued it in the middle. To prevent the bandage from getting dirty and the glue not to dry, he covered the tape with a thin cloth. The point of all this was that when Mrs. Dixon was hurt again, she would only need to remove the protective tissue and apply the ready-made bandage to the damaged area.

Dixon shared his invention with a colleague, who advised him to tell the manager about it. President James Johnson saw a great future in this invention, and the manager of the cotton mill W. Johnson Kenyon came up with a name for the new product: band (ribbon) + eid (help) - and it turned out “band-age”, what we call today a plaster. In 1924 the Johnson firm installed a machine to cut the band-aids into pieces 3 "long and 3/4" wide.

So, thanks to these two stories, now we have and are actively using in our daily life one of the most valuable inventions of the century - a plaster.