What is the history of pool and billiards?
See “history of pool and billiards” in the reference section of the instructor and student resource page.
Who contributed the most important historical inventions in billiards?
CHARLES GOODYEAR – Gave us rubber and gave billiards bank shots
Discovered the process for the vulcanization of rubber. Applications of his discovery revolutionized the billiard cushion (as well as a hundred other industries). Vulcanized rubber was stable and consistent. Unlike previous rubbers, it retained its resiliency in the most searing heat and the bitterest cold. John Thurston was the first to use Goodyear’s discovery in the construction of billiard cushions. The result was a consistent, reliable cushion. Bank shots, once unpredictable, became integral parts of the game. Vulcanized rubber has proven so unsurpassed, it is still used in cushions today. Charles Goodyear, sadly, profited little from his discovery. He was imprisoned for debt, his company folded, and he died a veritable pauper.
JOHN WESLEY HYATT – Inventor of the composite billiard ball
The inventor of the world’s first plastic. His discovery of celluloid, in 1869, revolutionized not only the billiard ball, but countless industries worldwide. Strangely, his discovery had more to do with billiards than any plastic-related vision or enterprise. His search began as a result of a $10,000 prize, being offered for a substitute for ivory, in the composition of billiard balls.
Though his discovery was not deemed worthy of the prize, later advances in plastics led to the balls of today, and forever changed the face of the world. It can thusly be stated that the world’s first plastic was actually the result of a billiard-related quest: the search for a new material, for the perfect billiard ball.
CAPTAIN MINGAUD – Invented the modern cue tip & Massé shots…honed the scientific edge of shotmaking
Invented the leather cue tip in the early 1800’s. Imprisoned in France for political reasons. Was allowed the use of a billiard table inside his prison cell, and became obsessed with the game. Became a student of the physics of shotmaking, and truly transformed the cue into a scientific instrument. Revolutionized the “magic” one could impart on the cue ball, through the use of “spin” and “english.”
Mingaud also discovered that by raising the cue almost vertically – in fact into the position in which the mace would be used – extraordinary spin effects could be obtained by striking a sharp downwards glancing blow to the left and right across the cue ball. This type of shot or stroke became known as the massé – French for mace. No other invention so dramatically affected “touch,” control, positioning, and overall strategic play.
JOHN THURSTON – Brought table making into the Industrial Age..invented the first Slate table
English inventor and table maker. Among the first to mass-produce tables, with the onset of industrialization. Inventor of the slate table bed. Unsatisfied with the playability and warping tendency of wood, he set out in search of a new material. His discovery came in the form of slate, in 1826. Slate was cheap, readily available, and offered a far smoother surface. Its immense weight led to the construction of far sturdier tables. His innovation has truly withstood the test of time. Slate continues to be the material of choice in quality tables today.
JOHN M. BRUNSWICK – The first big name in the American Billiards Industry
Swiss immigrant and woodworker. Emigrated to America in 1819. Built a billiard table factory in 1845. For nearly 150 years, Brunswick has been the most visible name in American billiards. Merged with his two largest competitors—Julius Balke, in 1873; and Phelan and Collender, in 1884. Officially became “Goliath,” the largest billiard company in the world. Passed control to his family, upon his death, in 1886. For over forty years (until the Depression), the company enjoyed an incredible upward spiral of profits, growth and success. Entered (and soon monopolized) the bowling industry. Worked hard to improve billiards reputation, by teaching and donating tables to charitable groups. Drastically cut product lines during the Depression. Survived and grew again as economy improved. Sponsored thousands of tournaments over the course of the centuries. In the world of billiards, Brunswick remains the dominant name in American pool rooms and homes.
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