Leo Baekeland invented the first synthetic plastic in 1907.He was able to make the first synthetic plastic because of his wealth.Continue Reading
Baekeland earned his wealth from selling the first commercially successful photographic paper to George Eastman for $750,000 in 1898. This gave him the freedom that he needed to pursue his own research leading to the invention of plastic. In 1905, Baekeland discovered that combining formaldehyde and phenol resulted in an interesting material that could bind powders to one another. He named the material after himself, calling it "Bakelite." This was the first thermosetting plastic.
In 1931, another type of plastic, neoprene, was invented. In 1933, polythene and Perspex were invented. Then in 1938, nylon was invented. Nylon is a wholly synthetic fiber and fabric. It was put in toothbrush bristles and stockings.
Plastic became important for the nation during World War II when plane cockpits were made out of Perspex and polythene was used to insulate the radar. The synthetic used for the tires also came from plastic. Modern plastic includes Teflon (used in non-stick pans), Lycra (used primarily in sportswear materials) and Dacron (used in tents and sailing supplies to keep things from rotting). All of the plastics made today have been directly influenced by Baekeland and his first Bakelite plastic.Learn more about Inventions
The "spinning Jenny" was invented by a weaver named James Hargreaves. Hargreaves allegedly got his idea after his daughter knocked over a spinning wheel, which led to him naming the machine after her. The spinning Jenny not only helped improve the speed of spinning, but also the effectiveness of weaving.Full Answer >
Lydia Newman invented the first hairbrush to have synthetic bristles. She received a patent for her “improved” brush in 1898. Prior to her invention, hairbrushes were made with bristles from animals, such as boar’s hair.Full Answer >
The cotton gin, patented by Eli Whitney in 1794, was a machine that efficiently removed seeds from cotton fibers. This revolutionary device made it possible for cotton to become the leading American export by the middle of the 1800s. Unfortunately, it also strengthened the institution of slavery.Full Answer >
Although widely and erroneously credited to 19th-century British plumber Thomas Crapper, the modern flush toilet was actually invented in 1596 by Sir John Harrington. His treatise, titled "A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax," described an early type of flush toilet.Full Answer >