Google marks Sir William Henry Perkin's 180th birthday with a doodle

This stands true when we talk about Sir William Henry Perkin. Sir William Henry Perkin is known for his contribution to the pharmaceutical and chemical industries but he discovered the synthetic dye when he was just 18.

How was the dye discovered?

Sir William Perkin was born in the East End to a carpenter father and Scottish mother, and he was the youngest of seven children.

Interestingly, Perkin made the discovery quite At the age of 15, Perkin joined the Royal Collage of Chemistry under the guidance of August Wilhelm von Hofmann, who had the time had published a hypothesis on how it might be possible to synthesise quinine, an expensive natural substance much in demand for the treatment of malaria. England was then in the grip of the Industrial Revolution and coal tar - the major source of his raw material - was being produced in large quantities as a waste product.

Despite unsuccessful efforts at making quinine from aniline, Perkin found a mysterious dark sludge. When he tried to wash it off, it left behind a vivid purple colour.

So who was this brilliant man who turned the world from black and white to colour overnight? Perkin had accidently invented the first synthetic dye.

Furthermore, the colour purple had been a signifier of aristocracy, prestige and even royalty since ancient times, and it had been especially expensive and hard to produce as the requisite dye, Tyrian purple, since it was made from the glandular mucus of certain molluscs. But those colours were tiresome, and the prices were high. However Perkin's discovery not only made it readily available at the height of the textile industry's dominance, but his rich mauve - what he referred to as "mauveine" - was more lasting and deeper than any shade prior. His business associates even congratulated him for creating a popularity of his colour among the powerful class of community - the ladies.

Vanessa Coleman

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