Earle Dickson was born in 1893. When he married he was working as a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson. His wife was somewhat of a klutz and was constantly cutting herself as she worked in the kitchen. The bandages at the time were big and hard to apply.

Earle took sterile gauze and attached it to tape and used it to stop the bleeding. When he mentioned what he had done to a co-worker, he was encouraged to take his idea to management. They weren’t impressed until Earle showed them how easy his bandage could be applied. The name Band-Aids® was suggested by a superintendent of the factory where they were made.

The sales of the Band-Aids® were disappointing. The problem was that the bandages were too wide and too long. The turnaround in sales occurred when they were given to Boy Scout troops. The Scouts helped popularize the ease of use and effectiveness of Band-Aids®. It could be argued that Band-Aids® were one of the first products to go viral.

Today, Band-Aids® is perhaps one of the most used medical products of all time rivaling aspirins and vitamins. Earle’s stature in Johnson & Jonson continued to grow. He was named vice president of the company and given a seat on its Board of Directors. He retired in 1957 and passed away four years later.

Beginnings are often a refinement of products that already exist. In the case of Band-Aids®, its ease of use became the spark that led to its acceptance. Also, a clever marketing strategy led to Band-Aids® success. We think of going viral as an internet phenomenon, but Band-Aids® went viral when computers still did not exist.

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by Shel Silverstein
I have a Band-Aid on my finger,
One on my knee, and one on my nose,
One on my heel, and two on my shoulder,
Three on my elbow, and nine on my toes.
Two on my wrist, and one on my ankle,
One on my chin, and one on my thigh,
Four on my belly, and five on my bottom,
One on my forehead, and one on my eye.
One on my neck, and in case I might need ’em
I have a box full of thirty-five more.
But oh! I do think it’s sort of a pity
I don’t have a cut or a sore!

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