Waldo Semon


1898 – 1999


Who was Waldo Semon?

Waldo Lonsbury Semon was a renowned American inventor born in Demopolis, Alabama. He is credited with inventing methods for making polyvinyl chloride useful.

Semon put his name into the history books for inventing vinyl, the world's second most used plastic. He found the formula for vinyl by mixing a few synthetic polymers, and the result was a substance that was elastic, but wasn't adhesive. Semon worked on methods of improving rubber, and eventually developed a synthetic substitute. On December 11, 1935, he created Koreosol from salt, coke and limestone, a polymer that could be made in any consistency. Semon made more than 5,000 other synthetic rubber compounds, achieving success with Ameripol in 1940 for the B.F. Goodrich company. In all, Semon held 116 patents, and was inducted into the Invention Hall of Fame in 1995 at age 97.

While at B.F. Goodrich, Semon supervised another notable chemist: Benjamin S. Garvey, who also later received the Charles Goodyear Medal.

Semon is sometimes credited with inventing bubble gum, but this is inaccurate. He did invent an indigestible synthetic rubber substance that could be used as a bubble gum, but the product remained a curiosity and was never sold. Semon graduated from the University of Washington earning a BS in chemistry and a PhD in chemical engineering.

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Sep 10, 1898
  • United States of America
  • University of Washington
May 26, 1999

on July 23, 2013


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