Thursday, 29 December 2016

Much more than raincoats

Charles Macintosh, who gave his name to waterproof coats generally, not just those made according to his innovative process, was born 250 years ago today.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes that "Macintosh's connection with the commercial applications of rubber has somewhat obscured his contemporary fame as an innovative chemist." His entry states: "During a long business career [in Glasgow and Manchester] Macintosh either invented or introduced from abroad a variety of chemically based processes with distinct commercial applications. In addition to the manufacture of sugar of lead these included a new method for calico printing, a variety of methods for dyeing cloth (particularly with Prussian blue), a valuable method of bleaching using dry chloride of lime, a method for preserving citric acid during ocean voyages, a manufacturing process for yeast, and a variety of inventions relating to iron and steel."

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