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Fun Facts About the History of Corning




For the past century and a half, Corning's products and technological advances have changed the way we live and made them a household name. These days, Corning is focused on the four main market sectors: display technologies, environmental technologies, telecommunications and life sciences, but throughout their history the company has made advances in more areas than you might imagine. Read on for some of's favorite highlights in the history of Corning Inc.


  • In 1879, Thomas Edison asked Corning to produce glass envelopes, or bulbs, for his newly invented incandescent lamp. Over the following years, the company changed lighting forever by creating a way to mass-produce the bulbs, making incandescent lights widely affordable.
  • In 1908, Corning officially became known for glass research when they opened the fourth industrial research laboratory in United States history.
  • At the turn of the 20th Century, railroads were facing a safety issue: glass signal-lamp globes often shattered from heat fluctuations. The solution? In 1912, Corning developed a borosilicate glass that combined strong resistance to heat with a low expansion rate. This new form of glass worked so well that the demand for replacement lanterns almost disappeared!
  • In 1913, Jesse Littleton, a Corning research physicist, brought home a sample of heat-resistant glass. His wife was amazed at how beautifully an experimental cake baked in it, and two years later, in 1915, Pyrex® cookware began taking the nation's kitchens by storm.
  • In 1934, Corning issued the largest piece of cast glass to be produced up to that time: the 200-inch Pyrex® mirror for Mount Palomar's Hale Telescope.
  • Shipboard dishes being smashed on rough seas was only a problem until the 1940's, when Corning developed durable, strengthened-glass tableware for the United States Navy.
  • As they had earlier done with incandescent lights, between 1947 and 1949 Corning helped make television affordable to greater number of people by mass-producing TV tubes and developing a centrifuge (spin) casting method for television funnels.
  • Bake it, chill it, drop it… it won't break! In 1952, Corning’s Dr. Donald Stookey discovered that photosensitive glass could be transitioned into glass ceramics. The company further developed Pyroceram in 1957, and ever since then, hardly a kitchen has gone without CorningWare®.
  • Corning began a long and lasting space career in 1961, when their heat-resistant windows and re-entry shields left the Earth's atmosphere as part of the Mercury spacecraft. Corning also helped make the Gemini and Apollo flights possible, and has continued to produce glass for every manned American spacecraft to date!
  • From the mid-sixties to the early 1970s, three Corning researchers worked to develop, and make constant improvements to, the technology for which their company is most well known today: fiber optics. The performance of Corning's optical fibers progressed so rapidly that engineers made the original product obsolete before it even had time to go on the market!
  • In 1972, Corning set a new standard for emissions control. A team of three Corning engineers invented a cellular ceramic substrate that is now used worldwide in automotive catalytic converters.
  • In 1982, the market for Corning’s fiber optic technology really took off when MCI placed an order for 100,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable!
  • In 1997, Corning contributed a colossal mirror to the Subaru Telescope. Over 26 feet across and 8 inches thick, this 27-ton piece of glass is one of the largest ever made.


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