This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

What do catgut and toothbrushes have in common?

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February 28, 1935: Wallace Carothers Invents Nylon

Wallace Carothers, an American Chemist, inventor and scientist working for DuPont invented nylon on this day in 1935. Of course like most inventions it was a long path that led to nylon.

Wallace Carothers

Wallace Carothers

drwestFirst used commercially in a toothbrush followed by women’s stockings, nylon is made of repeating units linked by amide bonds.

This is the first pair of experimental nylon stockings made for DuPont in 1937

This is the first pair of experimental nylon stockings made for DuPont in 1937

Don’t know what that means? Just get some good old sebacoyl chloride, a bit of heptane, some diaminohexane and water. Do some fancy mixing, dip your tweezers in the interface of the mixtures and slowly pull them out to see a strand hanging on.

Rinse and repeat a zillion times. Nothing to it.

andres_segovia18

Andrés Segovia

On a Side Note

In the mid-1940s, classical guitarist Andrés Segovia was frustrated with the shortage of catgut guitar strings. Partnering with the DuPont family and string maker Albert Augustine, after 3 years of development, quality guitar strings emerged to the joy of many cats around the world.

A short list of things made with nylon:

Hosiery

Ropes

Acoustic guitar strings (also sitars, violins, violas, cellos)

Parachutes

Fishing nets

Wool blends

Machine parts

Athletic wear like track pants & shorts, swimwear, windbreakers

Bedspreads

Draperies

Flak vests

Combat uniforms

Tires

Life vests

Netting of bridal veils

Umbrellas

Luggage

Carpet

Spandex

Fishing line

Food packaging – boil-in-bags

Gears and bearings

Radiator grills

Ski & Inline skate bindings

Electrical insulation / switch housings

Power tool housings

Toothbrushes

Surgical sutures

Ropes nets

Tire cords

Gun frames

Cable ties

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