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Wite-Out dates to 1966, when Edwin Johanknecht an insurance-company clerk, sought to address a problem he observed in correction fluid available at the time: a tendency to smudge ink on photostatic copies when it was applied. Johanknecht enlisted the help of his associate George Kloosterhouse, a basement waterproofer who experimented with chemicals, and together they developed their own correction fluid, introduced as "Wite-Out WO-1 Erasing Liquid".
In 1971, they incorporated as Wite-Out Products, Inc. The trademark "Wite-Out" was registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on February 5, 1974. (The application listed the date of "first use in commerce" as January 27, 1966.)
Early forms of Wite-Out sold through 1981 were water-based and hence water-soluble. While this allowed simple cleaning, it also had the problem of long drying times. The formula also did not work well on non-photostatic media such as typewritten copy.
The company was bought in 1981 by Archibald Douglas. Douglas, as chairman, led the company toward solvent-based formulas with faster drying times. Three different formulas were created, each optimized for different media. New problems arose: a separate bottle of thinner was required, and the solvent used was known to contribute to ozone depletion. The company addressed these problems in July 1990 with the introduction of a reformulated "For Everything" correction fluid.
In June 1992, Wite-Out Products was bought by the BIC Corporation. BIC released a number of new products under its newly acquired brand, including a Wite-Out ballpoint pen (November 1996) and dry correction tape (1998).
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark registration number 0978134. Trademark Electronic Search System(Tess) (Accessed 2006-09-27).