On this day in history : 12th October 1823 – The Macintosh raincoat goes on sale for the first time – its inventor, Charles Macintosh….

Charles Macintosh – John Graham Gilbert, public domain

Glaswegian Charles Macintosh was first employed as a clerk but enjoyed experimenting with science in his spare time, especially chemistry…. Before reaching the age of 20 he had given up his regular employment to concentrate on the manufacture of chemicals….

It was his experiments with naphtha, a by-product of tar, that led to his invention of a waterproof fabric…. By cementing two pieces of cotton together with natural rubber a fabric was produced resistant to water but still flexible enough to be suitable for clothing…. With its ability to protect against wind and rain it was an ideal material with which to make coats….

A gentleman’s Macintosh from an 1893 catalogue – Public domain

Macintosh patented the process in 1823…. Early Macintoshes had a tendency to melt in hot weather and were a tad on the smelly side….but over time the design improved…. At some point a ‘K’ was added to the name, giving us the ‘Mackintosh’ – but frequently it is known as the ‘Mac’….

Bonded cotton is still used but is now produced in Japan…. It is then shipped to the Mackintosh factory in Cumbernauld, Scotland…. Techniques used today are little changed since the Mac’s debut nearly 200 years ago…. True classic British style….

Image courtesy : Andrew Dunn http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/ CC BY-SA 3.0

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