The inventor of plastic was Alexander Parkes, who demonstrated his invention to the public at the Great International Exhibition in London in 1862. The material was initially called Parkesine and was created from cellulose. The material could be heated for molding and would retain its shape after it cooled.
Prior to the development of Parkesine, a precursor of sorts in polystyrene was discovered by Eduard Simon in 1839. After the introduction of Parkesine, John Wesley Hyatt invented celluloid 1868. Celluloid was initially invented as part of an effort to develop an ivory substitute for billiard balls. In 1872, Eugen Baumann developed polyvinly chloride, a material more commonly known as PVC.