• 29,000–25,000 BC – First pottery appears
  • 3rd millennium BC – Copper metallurgy is invented and copper is used for ornamentation
  • 2nd millennium BC – Bronze is used for weapons and armour
  • 1st millennium BC – Pewter beginning to be used in China and Egypt
Making pottery
  • 16th century BC – The Hittites develop crude iron metallurgy
  • 13th century BC – Invention of steel when iron and charcoal are combined properly
  • 10th century BC – Glass production begins in ancient Near East

Crucible Steel
  • 3rd century BC – Wootz steel, the first crucible steel, is invented in ancient India
  • 50s BC – Glassblowing techniques flourish in Phoenicia
  • 20s BC – Roman architect Vitruvius describes low-water-content method for mixing concrete

1st millennium

  • 3rd century – Cast iron widely used in Han Dynasty China
  • th century – Iron pillar of Delhi is the oldest surviving example of corrosion-resistant steel
  • 8th century – Porcelain is invented in Tang Dynasty China


  • 8th century – Tin-glazing of ceramics invented by Arabic chemists and potters in Basra, Iraq9th century – Stonepaste ceramics invented in Iraq
  • 9th century – Lustreware appears in Mesopotamia

2nd millennium

  • 11th century – Damascus steel developed in the Middle East
  • 1448 – Johann Gutenberg develops type metal alloy
  • 1450s – Cristallo, a clear soda-based glass is invented by Angelo Barovier
High Carbon Damascus Steel
  • 1540 – Vannoccio Biringuccio publishes first systematic book on metallurgy
  • 1556 – Georg Agricola’s influential book on metallurgy
  • 1590 – Glass lenses are developed in the Netherlands and used for the first time in microscopes and telescopes

18th century

  • 1738 – Metallic zinc processed by distillation from calamine and charcoal patented by William Champion
  • 1740 – Crucible steel technique developed by Benjamin Huntsman

Acid Battery

  • 1779 – Hydraulic cement (stucco) patented by Bry Higgins for use as an exterior plaster
  • 1799 – Acid battery made from copper/zinc by Alessandro Volta

19th century

  • 1821 – Thermocouple invented by Thomas Johann Seebeck
  • 1824 – Portland cement patent issued to Joseph Aspin
  • 1825 – Metallic aluminum produced by Hans Christian Orsted
  • 1839 – Vulcanized rubber invented by Charles Goodyear
Solar Cell
  • 1839 – Silver-based photographic processes invented by Louis Daguerre and William Fox Talbot
  • 1855 – Bessemer process for mass production of steel patented by Henry Bessemer
  • 1861 – Color photography demonstrated by James Clerk Maxwell
  • 1883 – First solar cells using selenium waffles made by Charles Fritts

20th century

  • 1902 – Synthetic rubies created by the Verneuil process developed by Auguste Verneuil
  • 1908 - Cellophane invented by Jacques E. Brandenberger
  • 1909 – Bakelite hard thermosetting plastic presented by Leo Baekeland
  • 1911 – Superconductivity discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
  • 1912 – Stainless steel invented by Harry Brearley
  • 1916 – Method for growing single crystals of metals invented by Jan Czochralski
  • 1924 – Pyrex invented by scientists at Corning Incorporated, a glass with a very low coefficient of thermal expansion
  • 1931 – synthetic rubber called neoprene developed by Julius Nieuwland (see also: E.K. Bolton, Wallace Carothers)
  • 1931 – Nylon developed by Wallace Carothers1
  • 938 – The process for making poly-tetrafluoroethylene, better known as Teflon discovered by Roy Plunkett
  • 1939 – Dislocations in metals confirmed by Robert W. Cahn1
  • 947 – First germanium point-contact transistor invented
  • 1947 – First commercial application of a piezoelectric ceramic: barium titanate used as a phonograph pickup1951 – Individual atoms seen for the first time using the field ion microscope
  • 1953 – Metallic catalysts which greatly improve the strength of polyethylene polymers discovered by Karl Ziegler
SQUID superconducting quantum
  • 1954 – Silicon solar cells with 6% efficiency made at Bell Laboratories
  • 1954 – Argon oxygen decarburization (AOD) refining invented by scientists at the Union Carbide Corporation
  • 1959 – Float glass process patented by the Pilkington Brothers
  • 1962 – SQUID superconducting quantum interference device invented
  • 1968 – Liquid crystal display developed by RCA
Fiber Optic
  • 1970 – Silica optical fibers grown by Corning Incorporated
  • 1980 – Duplex stainless steels developed which resist oxidation in chlorides
  • 1985 - The first fullerene molecule discovered by scientists at Rice University (see also: Timeline of carbon nanotubes)

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