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Story Of Charles Macintosh: Scottish Chemist And Inventor Of Raincoat

Updated on 4 July, 2019 at 12:12 pm By

Remember as a kid we used to don our raincoats and brave the rain like little warriors? Well, there are still many places where this piece of clothing is widely used. It’s only during the rainy days we realize the importance of a raincoat. This simple cloth is still quite a useful thing. But, how have wondered how a raincoat was invented? Probably, not. It was first designed by Charles Macintosh around 250 years ago.



Charles Macintosh lived in Scotland which had more rainy days than dry ones. During that time, the only waterproofing clothes were the oiled fabrics, which were heavy and foul-smelling. Charles Macintosh was just 11-year-old when his father set up a factory, where he initially worked as a clerk. Surrounded by different chemicals, he started to experiment with them.



During one of his experiments, he found that naphtha (a by-product of tar) was able to dissolve Indian rubber and the resulting paste was able to repel water. He painted one side of wool cloth with this rubber solution and put another layer of wool cloth on top, thus creating the world’s first waterproof fabric. He noticed only the outside could get wet while the inner side was completely dry.




In 1823, Macintosh was granted a patent on the waterproof fabric. He set up his own company, which was later merged with that of Thomas Hancock. Thomas made it superior form by using vulcanized rubber which improved its durability. The Mackintosh company (the k was added by many writers, and stuck) still continues till today. It was bought by Dunlop Rubber in 1925, and despite being on the brink of closure in the 1990s, it stands very relevant in the market now.

The invention by chemist Charles Macintosh turned out to be a gift for everyone. Furthermore, he made a fortune with his invention. However, not everyone was so lucky. Here are some of the inventors who were killed by their own inventions.


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