Hyatt, John Wesley

Hyatt, John Wesley

▪ American inventor
born November 28, 1837, Starkey, New York, U.S.
died May 10, 1920, Short Hills, New Jersey

      American inventor who discovered the process for making celluloid.

      In the late 1860s, while searching for a substitute for ivory for making billiard balls, Hyatt combined nitrocellulose, camphor, and alcohol, heated the mixture under pressure to make it pliable for molding, and allowed it to harden under normal atmospheric pressure. His discovery opened the way for the development of the modern plastics industry. Hyatt also invented a filter that made possible the chemical purification of moving water, and he is credited with other inventions important in sugarcane refining and textile manufacturing.

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