Written by Nathan Cooper
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Topics: Stationery

Thursday, 5 July 2001

image for Office supply inventor dies at 71
Braille-Out didn't really catch on

Milton Stamp, office supply entrepreneur and inventor died at his home recently after an extended illness. Stamp was well known to his colleagues, who, according to his wife Berta, were always somewhat skeptical about his ideas.

"Milton was just ahead of his time, the people who worked with him never knew what a true genius he was", said Berta.

After graduating from the University of Maryland in 1951 with a degree in Business, Stamp gained employment in a mechanical pencil factory and soon found his true calling in life.

One if his early ideas was for a nationwide chain of office supply stores which was to be called 'Staples'. He opened his first store near his home in Cumberland, MD, but the store soon closed because the only product it sold was staples.

He soon after devoted all his time to office supply inventing. Stamp went on to invent Invis-out, a product similar to WhiteOut. Stamp's version of the popular correction fluid allowed one to fix mistakes made when writing with invisible ink.

Although the product never took off, it inspired his next invention, Braille-Out. Similar to his Invis-Out, Braille-Out was a thicker fluid that allowed those who wrote in Braille to apply the substance over their written mistakes.

After inventing several marginally successful office products, Stamp set his sights on what he called a revolutionary product; three sided tape. His wife recalls a brainstorming session he had at the dinner table one summer evening,

"He was sitting there thinking about the usual, office supply products, when he suddenly blurted out 'I've got it!'. He said he was going to take two-sided scotch tape to the next level. He must have worked for literally a year on that three-sided tape idea before giving up.

He always said he was pressured by goons from the 3-M Tape Company to abandon his idea, but I think he realized it couldn't be done with the technology at that time," Berta said.

Stamp's final idea was for a new type of computer printing paper, showing he was always in step with the times. In his notes he described conventional computer paper as being too dingy looking and hard to see in normal light.

His goal was to make a new type of paper that was "whiter than white". He wanted it to be so white that the printed image would seem to bounce magically off the paper, and the paper itself would look "white-hot, as if you were staring directly into the sun itself", his notes described.

On this last invention Berta said, "I don't know how he came up with that one, I think his eyesight was going bad."

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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