First Mackintosh Sold
Charles Macintosh invented the process that allowed the nearly eponymous garment (nobody can explain where the additional ‘k’ came from) to be manufactured. His family firm in Glasgow produced textile dyestuffs, some of which involved the use of naphtha, a tar by-product. It was while looking to find higher value-added applications for naphtha that Macintosh developed in effect a laminating process, squeezing rubber made soluble with the chemical between two layers of cloth, originally wool, which waterproofed that material.
Charles Macintosh obtained patent 4804 in June 1823 to cover his discovery. He initially produced just the cloth, which was converted into coats by local tailors in Glasgow and soon in London , though it was not a raging success at first as the early versions were stiff and uncomfortable, if fully waterproof. The entrepreneurial Macintosh eventually moved into making finished waterproof clothing, setting up a plant in Manchester .
It has to be acknowledged that the date for the first sale of a coat or cloak made from the material is open to some dispute, the sources being unclear on the matter, but it is suggested that the garment was sold in Glasgow on October 12 1823 just months after the inventor obtained his patent.
Macintosh’s mind ranged over other areas, including iron production and the improvement of brewer’s yeast, and his capabilities received official recognition in 1823 when he was elected to the Royal Society.
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