Sir William Henry Perkin Google doodle recognizes British scientist behind 1st synthetic dye

Today’s Google doodle marks the 180th birthday of the British scientist, Sir William Henry Perkin.

According to Google, Perkin, while cleaning out a beaker in a lab, stumbled upon what would become the first synthetic dye.

“As an 18-year-old laboratory assistant, Perkin was cleaning out dark muck from a beaker after a failed experiment, when he noticed that the substance left a vivid purple stain when diluted with alcohol,” writes Google on the Google Doodle blog.

Upon discovering the purple-tinted dye, Perkin worked to get the dye he named “mauveine” patented, manufactured and commercialized. Google called the timing of his serendipitous discovery “remarkable” because the textile industry was at full-force.

“Purple clothing was very much in style, but prohibitively expensive for most, not to mention quick to fade. Perkin’s strong and inexpensively produced mauveine finally made this once-exclusive color readily accessible, igniting a violet fashion frenzy,” writes Google.

Designed by UK-based illustrator, Sonny Ross, the doodle leads to a search for “Sir William Henry Perkin” and highlights the purple-colored fabrics made possible by Perkin’s dye.

In 1906, on the 50th anniversary of his discovery, Perkin was knighted for his contribution of mauveine. Google says after earning much wealth and success in manufacturing, Perkin returned to laboratory research.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including,, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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