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The 75th Birthday of Nylon

On February 28, 1935, DuPont chemist Wallace Carothers created
nylon, one of the most versatile and profitable materials ever
invented. At first, the new polymer was plagued by bad press (the Washington News
reported erroneously that nylon was made from dead bodies). But when
DuPont’s nylon stockings hit stores in 1940, they were an instant
success, with sales totaling $9 million (about $135 mil-lion in 2009
dollars) in their first year. During World War II, DuPont switched
production from hosiery to parachutes. When nylons went back on the
market in 1945, demand was so high that riots broke out in some cities.
Eventually, DuPont sold its textile division (to Koch Industries in
2004), but continues to use nylon in everything from car airbags to
medical devices. — EW

sun, february 28

STRETCH
The 75th Birthday of Nylon

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