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March 26, 2001
Volume 79, Number 13

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ACS History
Important Chemical and Related Events
Early 1870s Chemicals and allied products in the U.S. are valued at about $47 million annually.

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1872 Fifteen sulfuric acid manufacturers found the Manufacturing Chemists' Association of the United States, predecessor of the American Chemistry Council.

1876 American Chemical Society founded.

1877 Charles Friedel and James Crafts use aluminum chloride to condense aromatic hydrocarbons and alkyl halides.

1879 Journal of the American Chemical Society founded.

1886 Aluminum prepared electrolytically by Charles Martin Hall in the U.S. and Paul Héroult in France.

Nature first published, 1869
Science first published, 1883
Rabies vaccine Pasteur, 1885
Fluorine gas Moisson, 1886
Rayon De Chardonnet, 1891
Thermos flask Dewar, 1892
X-rays Roentgen, 1895
Electron Thomson, 1897
Radium, polonium Curie, 1898

1887 Svante Arrhenius proposes ionic dissociation theory.

1887 Laboratory of Hygiene, precursor to NIH, is established.

1888 Henri Le Chatelier studies the effect of temperature and pressure on equilibrium.

1893 Theory of coordination chemistry stated by Alfred Werner.

1896 Radioactivity discovered by Antoine-Henri Becquerel.

1897 Bayer's Felix Hoffmann develops pure acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin, the first large-scale commercial drug.

1897 Herbert H. Dow founds Dow Chemical to manufacture chlorine bleach.

1899–1900 Victor Grignard and Phillipe Barbier discover the use of magnesium-organic halides in organic synthesis.

 1900 Free radicals (triphenylmethyl) prepared by Moses Gomberg.

1900 Max Planck develops quantum theory.

1901 John F. Queeny founds Monsanto to manufacture the synthetic sweetener saccharin.

1905 Albert Einstein publishes four seminal papers: special theory of relativity, mass-energy equivalence
(E = mc
2), theory of Brownian motion, and photoelectric effect.

1906 Congress passes the Pure Food & Drugs Act.

1912 U.S. government orders breakup of DuPont gunpowder monopoly into DuPont, Hercules Powder, and Atlas Powder.

1912 Max von Laue suggests that crystals can diffract X-rays.

1913 Niels Bohr proposes solar system model of atoms; follows Ernest Rutherford's 1911 atomic nucleus theory.

1919 International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) formed.

1920 First commercial petrochemical unit produces isopropyl alcohol at Standard Oil's Bayway, N.J., refinery.

Early 1920s Chemicals and allied products shipments in the U.S. reach $400 million annually.

Bakelite Baekeland, 1907
Haber ammonia process 1908
Synthetic rubber 1910s
Radiolabeling de Hevesy, 1913
Pyrex glass Corning, 1915
Mass spectrometer 1918–19
Insulin Banting, Best, 1921
pH meter 1928
Penicillin Fleming, 1928–29

1923 Chemical & Engineering News begins as the News Edition of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry.

1923 Johannes N. Brønsted, Thomas M. Lowry, and Gilbert N. Lewis independently describe acid-base theories.

1925 Hoechst, Bayer, and BASF form the I. G. Farben cartel in Germany.

1926 Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) formed in the U.K.

1929 U.S. stock market crashes, leading to economic depression.

1930 The National Institute of Health is formally

1931–33 Linus Pauling publishes a series of papers: "The Nature of the Chemical Bond."

Mid-1930s Chemicals and allied products shipments in the U.S. pass $1 billion annually.

1937 Dow builds first styrene monomer plant, offers polystyrene commercially in the U.S.

1937 First commercial installation of a Houdry catalytic cracker at a Sun Oil plant.

1938 The Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act is passed.

1939 Nuclear fission discovered by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman; communicated and interpreted by Enrico Fermi, Lise Meitner, and Otto Frisch.

1940s DDT and other second-generation insecticides are developed.

1941 Archer J. P. Martin and Richard L. M. Synge develop liquid-liquid partition chromatography, which links analytical chemistry
to the life sciences.

1942 Manhattan Project is formed in the U.S. to secretly develop atomic weapons; first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is demonstrated at the University of Chicago.

1944 Petroleum Research Fund established as a trust administered by ACS.

Sulfonamide drugs 1930s
Deuterium Urey, 1931
Neutron Chadwick, 1932
Vitamin C 1932
Nylon Carothers, 1935
Teflon Plunkett, 1938
Polyester 1938
Streptomycin Waksman, 1944
Gas chromatograph, 1947

1945 U.S. explodes first atomic weapon at Alamagordo, N.M.; drops two bombs over Japan to end WWII.

1945 NMR spectroscopy of a bulk material first demonstrated independently by Felix Bloch and Edward M. Purcell.

1947 Fischer-Tropsch process used to produce hydrocarbons from synthesis gas.

1947 Explosion destroys Monsanto's styrene plant and surrounding area in Texas City, Texas, killing more than 500 people.

1951 Bayer, Hoechst, and BASF emerge after WWII as Allies break up the I. G. Farben cartel into three large companies and several smaller ones.

1951 National Science Foundation begins operating.

1953 James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick determine the double-helix structure of DNA.

1953 Stanley L. Miller and Harold Urey produce amino acids from a mixture of gases that mimicked the prebiotic atmosphere of Earth.

1955 Stannous fluoride toothpaste developed at Procter & Gamble.

1955 Frederick Sanger determines the first complete amino acid sequence of a protein, insulin.

1955 Melvin Calvin announces that the complete cycle of photosynthesis has been determined.

1957 Sputnik, the first spacecraft, is launched by the Soviet Union.

1957–59 First large-scale nuclear power plants begin operating in the U.S.

1959 Chemicals and allied products shipments in the U.S. pass $25 billion annually.

1962 Noble gases are discovered not to be inert by Neil Bartlett's preparation of XePtF6.

1962 Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" alerts industry and the public to environmental issues.

1968 The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is signed.

1969 American Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon.

11970 The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 is signed; the Environmental Protection Agency is formed and the first Earth Day is held.

Vitamin A Isler, 1947
Ziegler-Natta catalysts early 1950s
Dacron polyester DuPont, 1953a
Wittig reaction 1954
Saran plastic wrap Dow, 1954
Interferon 1957
Contraceptive pill 1960
First laser Maiman,1960
Valium diazepam, Roche, 1963

1970 The Clean Air Act is passed, the first of many environmental regulatory bills in the 1970s.

1971 Chemicals and allied products shipments in the U.S. pass $50 billion annually.

1972 Paul Berg carries out first successful recombinant DNA experiment.

1974 Theory of ozone depletion proposed by F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario J. Molina.

Mid-1970s Commercial potential of recombinant technology leads to the creation of several small companies and a new field: biotechnology.

1975 Asilomar conference establishes a model for scientists to self-police ethical bounds of research.

1976 The Resource Conservation & Recovery Act is passed.

1976 FDA authorizes good manufacturing practices.

1976 ACS celebrates centennial.

1977 The Apple II personal computer is launched.

1980 The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (Superfund) is passed.

1981 AIDS is first diagnosed.

Kevlar DuPont, 1965
Fourier-transform NMR 1966
CAT scan 1972
Vitamin B-12 Woodward, 1972
MRI developed 1973
Monoclonal antibodies 1975
PET scan 1977
STM developed 1981
Fluorinated antibiotics 1980s

1983 Thomas R. Cech and Sidney Altman independently show RNA can be catalyst.

1984 Methyl isocyanate leak at Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, kills thousands; sets chemical industry on a path to the Responsible Care program.

1985 Ozone hole first observed over Antarctica (shown at right).

1985 Fullerenes are first observed and characterized by Robert F. Curl Jr, Richard E. Smalley, Harold W. Kroto, and coworkers.

1985 Polymerase chain reaction reported by Kary B. Mullis and colleagues.

1985 Responsible Care program begins in the U.S. based on Canada's program.

1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union has a reactor core meltdown, releasing massive amounts of radiation.

1986–87 High-temperature superconductors are discovered.

Femtosecond spectroscopy 1987
Prozac fluoxetine, 1987
Metallocene catalysts early 1990s
Stem cell therapy 1990s
Tissue engineering 1990s
Leptin isolated Friedman, 1995
Formivirsen antisense drug, 1998
Viagra sildenafil, 1998
Malaria vaccine 1999
Concept of "cold fusion" of deuterium unveiled by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons; after much initial interest, the idea fades from the mainstream.

1989 The Human Genome Project is launched.

Early 1990s Combinatorial chemistry techniques are developed, leading to high-throughput screening of thousands of compounds for drug discovery and materials science.

1993 Dow Chemical wins Supreme Court decision in Bendectin case, requiring judges to use peer-reviewed science in court.

Mid-1990s Genetically modified foods--developed for pest resistance, nutritional value, and other reasons--reach commercial marketplace.

1995 Dow Corning files for bankruptcy under the weight of legal claims from silicone gel breast implant recipients.

1996 Dolly, a sheep, is the first animal cloned.

Note: ACS History is available in Adobe PDF format. (8.6MB)
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Late 1990s Advanced analytical tools and the ability to control materials at the atomic or molecular level lead to the new field of nanotechnology.

2000 Chemicals and allied products shipments in the U.S. reach nearly $440 billion annually.

2001 Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics independently publish papers reporting the complete sequencing of the human genome.


Copyright © 2001 American Chemical Society

Celebrating 125 years of Chemistry

Happy Birthday ACS!

Attila E. Pavlath, ACS President

Nina I. McClelland, ACS Board of Directors, Chair

John K. Crum, ACS Executive Diretor

ACS History
Society Reaches 125th Birthday
Anniversary serves as a milestone to commemorate ACS's contributions to the advancement of chemistry and society

Important Chemical And Related Events

ACS Today
ACS At 125: A Chemist's Place
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2001 American Chemicals Society Board of Directors

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