Google Doodle celebrates 180th birth anniversary of Sir William Henry Perkin


Sir William Henry Perkin, who introduced brightly coloured clothing to the masses and laid the foundation of today's chemical and pharmaceutical industries was honoured by Google, on his 180th birthday, with a doodle on Monday. It was there that Perkin started trying to synthesise quinine which was used for the treatment of malaria. He was quick to figure that the solution could be used to colour fabric.

William Henry Perkin is credited with discovering synthetic dye at a young age of 18.

The experiment proved that the chemical aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture which, when extracted with alcohol, produced a substance with an intense purple colour. Moreover, at that time, all dyes for colouring cloth were extracts of natural products, and many of them were expensive and labour-intensive to produce. However Perkin's discovery not only made it readily available at the height of the textile industry's dominance, but his rich mauve - what he referred to as "mauveine" - was more lasting and deeper than any shade prior.

Queen Victoria herself wore a mauveine-dyed gown to the Royal Exhibition of 1862, making Perkin's invention a huge hit.

Sir William Henry Perkin may not be a familiar name to many people, but the significance of his work lives on to this very day - he is best known for his accidental discovery of the first aniline dye: the purple mauveine.

In 1856, Perkin carried out a series of experiments to manufacture quinine from aniline, an low-priced and readily available coal tar waste product, working in his makeshift laboratory at his home.

Over a century after his death, Google is remembering the entrepreneur and chemist who went on to set up a factory for industrially manufacture synthetic dyes. Having gained wealth and success from his stint in manufacturing, Perkin eventually returned to laboratory research and was later knighted in 1906, on the 50th anniversary of his discovery.