INVENTING MODERN R&D
The twentieth century brought something wholly new to business practice: industrial research, which sought to nourish the inventive impulse with corporate might. General Electric was the first company to make a serious commitment in this area, but DuPont was the first to remake itself. The nineteenth-century explosives maker became in the twentieth century a producer of industrial chemicals, and in the early 1930s its research department discovered a substance stronger than silk and more resistant to abrasion. DuPont invested years in this promising infant, and in 1938 introduced nylon. Two years after the product hit the stores, DuPont had captured more than 30 percent of the market for fullfashioned stockings. After the war, DuPont kept introducing new synthetic fibers, such as Orion and Dacron. The company had reinvented itself by becoming predominantly a manufacturer of synthetics, with industrial chemicals as little more than a sideline.