Dec. 29, 1813
June 29, 1890
Induction: 2005 Industry Areas:
In 1862, Englishman Alexander Parkes created the first manmade plastic material, Parkesine, and exhibited it at the 1862 Great International Exposition in London.
Parkesine was a semi-synthetic thermoplastic material based on cellulose nitrate, which could be chemically modified to be hard or flexible, or soft and rubberlike, providing a foundation for the whole plastics industry that followed.
An independent inventor working in Birmingham, England, Parkes described himself as a metallurgist and chemist, although he had no formal training in these fields.
His work in rubber compounding was helpful in his later efforts to develop a plasticizer for cellulose nitrate; the solvent was based on camphor.
This work laid the groundwork for John Wesley Hyattâ€™s perfection of celluloid in 1869.
Although Parkesine and its successors were never commercially successful, Parkesâ€™ work provided the path for Hyatt to make his breakthrough with cellulose nitrate in the form of collodion as a substitute for ivory billiard balls.
Parkes died in 1890.