Sir James Swinburne, Scottish electrical engineer, late 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sir James Swinburne (1858-1958) took out over 100 patents, mostly relating to the incandescent- filament lamp. In 1904 he formed the Fireproof Celluloid Syndicate Ltd, using caustic soda as a catalyst to speed-up production of the hard resin. His patent for this method was anticipated by a day by L H Baekeland in 1907. Baekeland went on to develop the lacquer Damard. This was absorbed by the Damard Lacquer Company in 1910 and later by Bakelite Ltd. Swinburne remained the chairman until 1948.