Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame

Inductees

Richard G. Drew - 1978 Inductee

(1899 - 1980) Drew is the father of "Scotch" brand pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes. Observing the problems of auto painters of the 1920s, and overcoming many problems and disappointments over several years of frustration, he developed a successful masking tape. Initially, to save on glue, 3M coated only the edges, prompting customers to joke that the company was being overly "Scotch," or parsimonious. One crusty auto painter got a defective roll of tape and told the salesman: "Take this tape back to your stingy Scotch bosses and tell them to put more adhesive on it." Alert to the promotional possibilities, 3M (while adding more glue) decided to advertise its product as Scotch Brand tape. And a household name was born. The name was not widely known, however, until it was attached to Drew’s second invention. Faced with the problems of sealing cellophane bags, after many failures, his persistence led to the introduction of pressure sensitive cellophane tapes. These two products found immediate commercial acceptance and marked the beginning of the diversification which transformed 3M (then known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) from a company with a single product line (sandpaper and other abrasives) to a broadly diversified international corporation.

The tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee. Scotch™ tape has since become a permanent fixture of daily living. By 1957, 3M’s tape department had sold its 2 billionth roll of tape. Cellophane tape was replaced in 1972 with a stronger, more flexible polyester material that looks as clear and shiny, the old red-plaid packaging was retained and the public hardly noticed. By 1976 there were more than 600 varieties of "Scotch" brand tapes on the market - all direct descendants of masking tape and cellophane tape.

NOTE: These biographies have been compiled from information accompanying the nomination form submitted to the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, information available on the Internet and from a variety of other sources.