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


The doodle was in celebration of what would have been his 180th birthday. Google called the timing of his serendipitous discovery "remarkable" because the textile industry was at full-force. The chemist was just 18-years-old when he discovered the dying process that brought purple clothing to the masses. The dye offered what natural dyes couldn't: it was available in abundance because it was manufactured, and it didn't fade the way natural dyes did.

Hence the people wearing purple in the Google Doodle, a color too expensive for most people to wear, he made accessible to nearly all. The letters of the word "Google" trail through the crowd nearly like a ribbon. The doodle is designed by UK-based illustrator Sonny Ross.

Google is today celebrating the birth anniversary of British chemist Sir William Henry Perkin, who accidentally discovered the first synthetic dye. Perkin, after becoming wealthy and successful from his venture, eventually returned to laboratory research.

A 1906 painting of Perkin by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

Perkin was trying to find a substitute for quinine which was the only feasible medical treatment for malaria in 1856 because the demand for it was exceeding the supply. He named it "mauveine" and focused on patenting, manufacturing and commercializing it as an exclusive clothing dye.

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

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. Perkin patented the product and started manufacturing it in Greenford.