'Jo Stafford Sings American Folk Songs', early Bakelite LP record, c 1930s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This is one of the first 33 1/3 rpm 'Long Playing' records. The initial uses of phenolic resins were for varnishes and laminates used as electrical insulators. The first synthetic thermosetting plastic was patented in 1909 by Leo Baekeland (1863-1944), a Belgian-born chemist who emigrated to the United States in 1889. When combined with a wood flour filler, phenol formaldehyde, known by its trade name 'Bakelite', after its inventor, forms a useful mouldable plastic, with very good electrical insulating properties.