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, United States (USA) (American Colonies) - 1938 - October 27 - Du Pont announces a name for its new synthetic yarn: "nylon".


The invention of nylon in 1938 ushered in a textile revolution for consumers and the military alike, ultimately helping the Allies win World War II...

Nylon’s characteristics made for an ideal material to suit any number of uses, but DuPont decided early on that it would focus on a single market: ladies’ full-fashioned hosiery...

Before DuPont could take its new miracle fiber to the public, however, its leaders had to decide what to call it... According to Ernest Gladding, manager of the Nylon Division in 1941, the name had originally been "Nuron," which not only implied novelty but cleverly spelled "no run" backwards...

y early 1938 the press was producing a steady stream of articles that suggested that stockings made from the mystery fiber would outlast silk and never run. If DuPont executives had begun to grow nervous about unrealistic expectations, they grew truly alarmed in September 1938 when the Washington News ran a story based on the newly released patent (U.S. 2,130,948). The article claimed that nylon could be prepared from cadaverine, a substance formed during putrefaction in dead bodies. When combined with reports of Carothers’s suicide earlier that year, coverage of nylon took on an oddly morbid tone. Perhaps to counteract these rumors, for many years thereafter DuPont’s publicity department stressed that nylon was derived solely from coal, air, and water.

DuPont regained control of nylon’s publicity on 27 October 1938, when it officially introduced the stockings to a crowd of 4,000 enthusiastic middle-class women at the future site of the New York World’s Fair...

The liberal access to nylon hosiery that American women enjoyed proved short-lived. In November 1941 DuPont shifted its nylon manufacture from consumer to military production as a replacement for Japanese silk: in 1940, 90% of DuPont’s nylon had gone into stockings, but by 1942 virtually all nylon went into parachutes and tire cords. Nylon would eventually be used in glider tow ropes, aircraft fuel tanks, flak jackets, shoelaces, mosquito netting, and hammocks...

DuPont jumped back into consumer nylon production almost as soon as the war ended, with the first pairs of stockings returning to stores in September 1945. Everywhere the stockings appeared, newspapers reported on "nylon riots" in which hundreds, sometimes thousands, of women lined up to compete for a limited supply of hosiery...

For more information, visit sciencehistory.org

sciencehistory.org
October 27, 1938

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