NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
31st December, 1909 : A novel and promising new material made its appearance this year – Bakelite. Its inventor is the Belgian researcher Leo Baekeland, who was actually looking for a substitution for shellac when he happened to produce a sticky resinous substance by reacting together phenol and formaldehyde. It was no shellac substitute, but Baekeland found that under the right conditions of temperature and pressure it would flow into a mould like a liquid and then set to a hard material that did not soften with heat. Bakelite is light, reasonably strong, does not corrode, and it is a good electrical insulator. It seems probable that a number of uses will be found for it.