Rayon was invented by the Swiss chemist George Audemars in 1855. The semi-synthetic cellulose fiber was developed as an alternative to natural fibers, such as wool and cotton. Audemars first produced rayon by dipping a needle in liquid mulberry bark pulp, then gummy rubber.
His method of production was too time-intensive to be practical on an industrial scale. The British inventors Clayton Beadle, Edward Bevan and Charles Cross refined Audemars' technique in 1894, adapting it for large-scale production. Their product was known as viscose, because it was the viscous product of a reaction with carbon disulfide and cellulose. The word "rayon" wasn't used to describe the cellulose-based, semi-synthetic fabric until 1924.