Band-Aids - History of Band-Aids

Band-Aids

The first adhesive bandage was invented in 1920 by Earle Dickson, a cotton buyer for the Johnson & Johnson Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The company sold them with the brand name "Band-Aids", and when introduced, they were the first dressings for small wounds that users could apply themselves. Many other companies now make these small adhesive bandages, but the brand name "Band-Aid" is the word that most people know them as.

  • Earle Dickson's wife, Josephine was known to frequently cut and burn herself while cooking. He made the Band-Aid prototype for her by placing a small piece of gauze on top of a strip of tape. Then, he covered the surrounding sticky parts with crinoline, a stiff fabric. This kept the gauze sterile and prevented the adhesive from sticking to itself. His wife could unroll the tape and tear off a length of it as needed. Josephine liked the invention, and she found it offered excellent mobility and staying power.

  • Band-Aids were not very successful during their first year. By the end of 1920, only three thousand dollars in sales had been made.
  • The first Band-Aids that Johnson & Johnson sold were made by hand, and came in large strips that were two and a half inches wide and eighteen inches long.
  • In 1924, Johnson & Johnson developed a machine that mass-produced Band-Aids in great quantity. They were cut down to a smaller size, and new packages were made with red pull-strings that made the wrappers easy to open.
  • In 1938, Band-Aids became completely sterilized. When the United States entered World War II, Johnson & Johnson joined the war effort and sent millions of Band-Aids overseas. The bandages were even included in soldiers' standard mess kits.

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