Induction: 1996 Industry Areas:
An independent inventor and entrepeneur who also worked with Thomas Edison, Jonas Aylsworth pioneered the development of phenolic plastics following Leo Baekeland's first patent on them in 1909. He is credited with developing the first interpenetrating polymer network. Edison records used this material to manufacture all of its phonograph disks.
Aylsworth received about 100 patents, chiefly in phenolics. In 1910 he founded Condensite Company of America to produce compounds based on his technology and that licensed from Baekeland. Besides records, Condensite compounds were molded into many other consumer and industrial products. In 1922, the company was consolidated with others to form Bakelite Corp.
Born in Attica, Indiana, Aylsworth attended Purdue University for a year but left when his father died. He joined the Edison laboratory in New Jersey in 1887. For the rest of his life, Aylsworth continued his association with Edison, even while working for other companies and operating businesses of his own. He did important work in developing phonograph records and at one point was chief chemist at the Edison Phonograph Works. He and his wife Adelaide lived in East Orange, NJ, about a mile from the Edison laboratory in West Orange.