Adhesive Bandage
Adhesive Bandage
Earle Dickson

Invention and innovation affect all aspects of human life. Consider Graham Bell's invention of the telephone and the Wright Brothers' invention of the Airplane, which transformed human societies and even evolved the telecommunications and transportation industries.  in contrast, many inventions and innovations, with a relatively limited application have been created only to solve a minor problem. The invention of toothbrushes, hangers, adhesive tape, and even chewing gum are some of these innovations, but their use is quite common, and the lack of them may challenge life. However, the effect of the invention of the light bulb or battery on the industry and people's lives is not the same as the invention of chewing gum and hangers. But even these small inventions have contributed to the development of human life and have tried to solve a seemingly minor problem.

The adhesive bandage is another relatively small and widely used invention. On every home first aid kit, you can find it. The adhesive bandage may not be compared to the major medical and pharmaceutical inventions and innovations, including penicillin, defibrillation, medical ventilator, and insulin, but its widespread use in any work environment, residential places, and as well as hospitals and clinics, clearly shows that it has solved the common problem.

The adhesive bandage is used to cover minor scratch and outpatient treatments. Because at any moment, it is possible to injure a part of the body, and many of these injuries are relatively minor (such as cutting a housewife's hand while cooking, scratching a basketball player's skin when falling or head injuries in minor car accidents), First aid kits, such as an adhesive bandage, stop surface bleeding and prevent further infections.

The "BAND-AID®" Brand adhesive bandage, marketed by US pharmaceutical and medical corporation, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., was a very simple innovation; but it filled a great unmet need in consumer care. The invention has remained relatively unchanged in its nearly 100-year history and different generations have used it to cover their wounds and superficial injuries. Have you ever wondered how human beings met their needs before the invention of an adhesive bandage, and what made Earle Dickson think of designing and creating adhesive bandage as a modern invention?

Wound care and wound healing have a long history. At around 1550 B.C., Egyptians used honey for its antibacterial properties that helped heal infected wounds. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, and surgeon, in 460 BC, known as the father of medicine, used vinegar to irrigate open wounds and then wrapped the wound with fig leaves to prevent future injury or infection. Other traditional methods of resolving medical injury were used by Roman physicians, in first century AD included lead, silver and spice ointments (Saffron, thyme, and mint). By the late 4th century, on the fall of the Roman Empire, all these innovations were forgotten in the chaotic years and human beings have been waiting for centuries for modern medicine to help them.

In the 1860s, Joseph Lister began using carbolic acid, known as phenol, as a disinfectant for the treatment of surgical wounds. It is interesting to know that this famous doctor got this idea after he saw that this chemical application in the treatment of foul-smelling sewage. In 1887, Robert Wood Johnson along with his brothers James and Edward (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson) inspired by Sir Joseph Lister’s idea, made the first mass-produced sterile surgical dressings. The launch of Johnson & Johnson is the beginning of the production of a modern adhesive bandage product that was introduced almost three decades later.

The history of Johnson's and Johnson's activities shows that due to the company's efforts, innovations related to sterile surgical gauze and adhesive bandage have been developed and commercialized. In 1888, just one year after the company was founded, Johnsons had the idea to package some of the products that Johnson & Johnson made – sterile gauze, bandages, and dressings – in boxes for people who were working and injuring on the railways and with their informed feedback, Johnson & Johnson put out the first commercial first aid kits. Years later,  in 1920 a well-thought-out employee of the company, with the aim of solving the problem of his wife, created a product that greatly paved the way for the company's growth and development. His name was Earl Dixon and his innovative product was Band_Aid! Dickson’s adhesive bandage invention is U.S. Patent No. 1612267, titled Surgical Dressing and issued on December 28th, 1926 



After graduating from Yale University in 1915, Earl Dixon was hired by Johnson & Johnson as a buyer of cotton products Earle Dickson graduated Yale University in 1913 and took on work as a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson in 1915. Two years later, he married to a kind woman who was a little novice for housework and cooking! frequently injured herself in the kitchen. He quickly realized that his new bride, Josephine seemed to constantly be nicking her fingers while working in the kitchen. At that time a bandage consisted of separate gauze and adhesive tape that you would cut to size and apply yourself. This type of dressing faced a serious challenge, since the person alone could not wrap the bandage around fingers, and moreover, it was possible to open it during work and re-activity.

Since Josephine's hands were frequently injured and she always covered her hands with large bandages, Earle decided to invent a new dressing that his wife could easily use and at the same time have a long shelf life. The idea led to the design and creation of the first adhesive bandage. Dickson simply put the sterile gauze, surgical tape in a single convenient package, and affixed a cotton gauze on a long strip of tape and covered the whole thing with crinoline. The final product allowed Josephine to bandage his hands without assistance, and more importantly, the small wounds did not interfere with his subsequent activities.

Dickson was very excited and brought the idea to his boss, James Johnson and his boss decided to manufacture Band-Aids to the public in 1921. James Wood Johnson liked the idea and make Earle Dickson vice-president of Johnson & Johnson. The first Band-Aids, which were handmade, measuring 3 inches wide and 18 inches long, but they couldn’t have been an enormous breakthrough inconvenience. Sales for the first year were only $ 3,000 because the users didn't know how to use them.

The company's strategy, as a modern way of marketing, hired some salesmen who showed people how to apply adhesive bandage through attending the offices of doctors, butchers, and pharmacies. The strategy was highly effective, and product sales significantly increased.

Then, in 1924, the company developed a machine that mass-produced Band-Aids, with 3 inches (length) by 0.75 inches (width), in great quantity. At the same time, the orange coating used to open the adhesive bandage wrapper was introduced, making the product much easier to open.

Johnson & Johnson was well-versed in the market, and since the late 1950s, produced and marketed decorative Band-Aids with the Mickey Mouse cartoon character. However, medical innovations were also among the company's priorities, included antibiotic Band-Aids, which were developed in 1997 using a special ointment to prevent infection. Also, the production of liquid bandages (a proprietary mix of chemicals that formed a layer of molecules that bond to the skin, and protect from dirt and infection) was another innovation of the company that was introduced in 2002.

It is worth noting that Earle Dickson and Johnson & Johnson were well aware of the importance of protecting its intellectual property, its role in commercializing the product. Therefore, on December 29, 1925, they filed their invention and one year later they were granted the patent NO. «US 1612267» by the US Patent and Trademark Office; A patent owned by Johnson and Johnson, and Earle Dickson, was the only inventor. Interestingly, the total sales of Band-Aids had exceeded more than $ 30 million at the time of Dickson’s death in 1961