Today in Technology History

(Published weekdays. To receive "Today in Technology History" by e-mail, click here. To read past issues, click here.)

October 10

Although the term "vinyl" can be used to describe an entire category of plastics, it usually refers to polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl is sturdy enough to be used in construction, most notably as a material for floors and house siding. It is also used as a material for car dashboards, raincoats, toys, cable insulation -- and of course as a material for phonograph records.

Click to see more.

Click the image above to read more excerpts from Waldo Semon's patent for vinyl.

On October 10, 1933, the first truly useful version of vinyl was patented by Waldo Lonsbury Semon (1898-1999), a chemist who also invented bubble gum. His patent for vinyl argued that the new material would work well as a substitute for rubber, since "natural rubber is comparatively expensive and possesses certain inherent disadvantages" such as "its perishability."

Here are some of the uses for vinyl which Semon envisioned and described in his patent:

"...fabric impregnated with such [vinyl] compositions, when manufactured into raincoats, or used for covering automobile tops, will remain serviceable and water-tight for many times the life of similar rubberized fabric."

" can be used in the manufacture of gas-masks..."

"Water-proof boots or shoes of this material will not crack or check, but will remain flexible and water-tight until they are worn out."

"The compositions of this invention are excellent insulators, of high dielectric strength... [and may] be used even on high tension wires."

"Such compositions may be employed as a resilient, noiseless flooring or paving material, exhibiting a most remarkable resistance to wear or abrasion..."

Today, vinyl is the world's second largest-selling plastic material, with billions of pounds produced each year.

Related links:


Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More


| Biotechnology | Convergence | Creativity | Culture | E-conomics | Education |

| Equity | Gov't & Politics | Innovation | National Security | Personal Security |

For errors, broken links, questions or comments,