Coal Fired Computers, Hans Meijer, Steam Engine, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

bnr#16 => Coal Fired Computers, Hans Meijer, Steam Engine, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

Gutta Percha

Object: 20

Gutta Percha

Date of origin: Primarily introduced to the west in 1843
Author/inventor/context:
Used in various forms by the natives of the Malay Archipelago. John Tradescant brought it from Asia in 1656, though Dr. William Montogmerie was the first to appreciate its potential.

Gutta Percha was a Victorian analogue for plastic. It was used for household items like inkstands and animal figures after introduction at the 1851 Great Exhibition. In 1845 the Gutta Percha Company was established to traffic in this commodity. Forty years later, Gutta Percha laid the foundation of transcontinental communications as the material insulating the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. This largely unseen material made the fantasy of a global telegraph network possible. Vestiges of The Gutta Percha Co. exist today. Vodafone acquired a descendent of the company, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, in Aug 2012.

Joon Ian Wong