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DuPont Scientist Wallace Carothers Invents Nylon (1935) Options
Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 12:00:00 AM
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DuPont Scientist Wallace Carothers Invents Nylon (1935)

Though his struggles with mental illness made him initially reject a lucrative job with DuPont, chemist Wallace Carothers accepted the offer in the late 1920s and enjoyed much success there. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the invention of nylon, which rapidly gained widespread use in an array of products. First used to make toothbrush bristles, nylon was soon replacing silk in the parachutes and flak vests of American WWII combatants and in women's stockings. How did nylon get its name? More...
Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 10:11:18 AM

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Where Does the Name Nylon Originate?
By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 6 Aug 2016

The story that the name nylon came from combining the names of New York and London has been around for a long time – almost as long as nylon itself. It’s a good tale, and one with possibly even a little romance to it. Unfortunately, however, it’s not true.

As to the word nylon, it’s actually quite arbitrary. DuPont itself has stated that originally the name was intended to be No-Run (that’s run as in the sense of the compound chain of the substance unravelling), but at the time there was no real justification for the claim, so it needed to be changed. It was the discoverer, Carothers, who was responsible for that. He changed the name, letter by letter, until finally the management at DuPont accept what he’d come up with – which was nylon. Unfortunately, he reportedly committed suicide prior to the name being finalised, and actually wasn’t even working on nylon in his last year of life, which casts some doubt on the veracity of that.

That, at least, was the explanation in 1978. Back in 1940 it was a little different. In that year, the company’s John W. Eckelberry stated that the first three letters – the nyl – had no read meaning at all, whilst the on suffix was inspired by that used in other fibres.

So there are two contrasting, and both official, stories. But neither mention nylon as coming from NY and London.
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