Polyester began as a group of polymers in W.H. Carothers' laboratory. Carothers was working for duPont at the time when he discovered that alcohols and carboxyl acids could be successfully combined to form fibers. Polyester was put on the back burner, however, once Carothers discovered nylon. A group of Brittish scientists--J.R. Whinfield, J.T. Dickson, W.K. Birtwhistle, and C.G. Ritchie--took up Carothers' work in 1939. In 1941 they created the first polester fiber called Terylene. In 1946 duPont bought all legal rights from the Brits and came up with another polyester fiber which they named Dacron.
Polyester was first introduced to the American public in 1951. It was advertised as a miracle fiber that could be worn for 68 days straight without ironing and still look presentable.
In 1958 another polyester fiber called Kodel was developed by Eastman Chemical Products, Inc. The polyester market kept expanding. Since it was such an inexpensive and durable fiber, amny small textile mills emerged all over the country--many located in old gas stations--to produce cheap polyester apprel items. Polyester experienced a constant growth until the 1970s when sales drastically declined due to the negative public image that emerged in the late 60s as a result of the infamous
Today, polyester is still widely regarded as a "cheap, uncomfortable" fiber, but even now this image is slowly beginning to change with the emergence of polyester luxury fibers such as polyester microfiber.