Monday, February 16, 2009

Name game

Today mark's the 72nd anniversary of the granting of US Patent 2,071,250 for "Linear Condensation Polymers". Without /it them, the nylon toothbrush (1938) would not have been possible ... because "nylon" wouldn't have been around - by that name at least. We know the patent was applied for in 1931 but the origin of the name "nylon" is unclear. Wikipedia carries a couple of theories including that if inventor Wallace Carothers had his way it would have been called "No-Run" (which is how cartoon dog Scooby-Doo might pronounce Nylon). According to the WordBook and SlovoEd dictionaries the word Nylon was coined in 1938 - the year following Carother's (lemon juice and potassium cyanide) death following a lifetime of depression and a belief that he had no ideas left (according to Wikipedia). Carothers had earlier invented neoprene - as found in wet suits and laptop pouches.
But back to nylon: on another website (PBS) it's suggested that nylon was patented in 1935 before hitting the market in 1939 - which just goes to show, you can't be sure who to believe on the internet. As they say ... hours of fun.

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