In the early years of the nineteenth century numerous chemists and inventors were trying to find satisfactory ways to utilize the baffling substance known as “rubber.”
The substance got that name because the one thing for which a use had been found for the stuff was to “rub” out lead-pencil marks.
The most notable success was achieved in 1823. In that year a 57-year-old Scottish chemist, already the inventor of various other chemical processes, found that rubber could be dissolved by the action of naphtha.
The resulting solution could then be spread upon cloth, he discovered, and would produce a fabric that was absolutely waterproof. This new invention was immediately seen to be highly practical in the making of waterproof outer garments.
Coats so made, taking their name, slightly altered, from that of the inventor, Charles Macintosh, gave us our present name for the garment, mackintosh. (Compare RUBBER. )