Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,406 pages of information and 233,863 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Leo Baekeland

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Dr Leo Baekeland.

Baekeland, originally from Belgium but settled in the US, made his name in 1899 when he sold the rights to a new photographic paper to George Eastman of Kodak. The new paper, known as Velux, did not rely on sunlight to develop images, so that photographers could develop by artificial light instead.

In 1907 Baekeland came up with a new material, an artificial replacement for the natural material, shellac, used for insulators which he called Bakelite.

After patenting the material, known to chemists as polyoxybenzylmethylen-glycolanhydride, Baekeland unveiled it to the American Chemical Society in 1909.

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