Bakelite telephone

Bakelite telephone

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Credit: DANIEL SAMBRAUS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bakelite telephone. Dial telephone with bakelite casing. Bakelite, the first plastic to be used for widespread commercial purposes, was discovered in the 1920s while Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland was researching synthetic varnishes in the USA. It is a thermosetting plastic (one that does not melt once it has been heated and set) and it is a good insulator. This made it the ideal material to use in electrical devices like telephones and radios.

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