View Full Version : Plastic was invented to make billiards balls!!

09-03-2004, 04:45 AM
I was looking up information about plastics, and ran across this:

"...the U.S. plastics industry officilly dates its beginnings back to 1868, when a product called Celluloid was created as the first commercial plastic in the U.S. The development was in response to a competition sponsored by a manufacturer of billiard balls. It came about when a shortage developed in ivory from which the billiard balls were made..."


09-03-2004, 11:48 AM
Hyatt, John Wesley (1837-1920)
US inventor who in 1869 invented celluloid, the first artificial plastic, intended as a substitute for ivory. It became popular for making a wide range of products, from shirt collars and combs to toys and babies' rattles, and is still used in the manufacture of table-tennis balls.
Hyatt was born in Starkey, New York, and worked in Illinois as a printer. In the early 1860s, the New York company of Phelan and Collender offered a prize of $10,000 for a satisfactory substitute for ivory for making billiard balls. Using pyroxylin, a partly nitrated cellulose, Hyatt developed celluloid (the US trade name: it was called Xylonite in Britain). Although celluloid did come to be used for billiard balls, Hyatt was never awarded the prize money. He continued to patent his inventions - more than 200 of them, including roller bearings and a multiple-stitch sewing machine.
Celluloid consisted of a mouldable mixture of nitrated cellulose and camphor. Its chief disadvantage was its flammability. Celluloid was also used as a substrate for photographic film and as the filling in sandwich-type safety glass for car windscreens. It has largely been superseded by other synthetic materials.

09-03-2004, 11:52 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote smfsrca:</font><hr> ...Its chief disadvantage was its flammability....<hr /></blockquote>

Apparently Mr. Hyatt's billiard balls tended to explode when they struck one another at high speeds.