Oral history interview with Allan S. Hay

Oral history interview with Allan S. Hay

  • 1986-Jul-24

Allan S. Hay begins the interview with a description of his secondary and undergraduate education in Alberta. After briefly describing his graduate work at the University of Illinois and a summer job at Du Pont, he begins the story of his career at General Electric. There, after only a very short time, he was able to oxidize xylenol to synthesize PPO. Hay focuses on the practical applications as well as the chemical aspects of the progress that occurred in plastics research (including the developments of Noryl and Ultem) during his career as both a research chemist and a manager at G.E. He concludes with a bit of insight into what lies ahead in polymer research and development.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 65 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute
Digitization funder
  • Audio synchronization made possible through the generous funding of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

About the Interviewers

Leonard Fine is professor of chemistry and director of undergraduate studies in chemistry at Columbia University. His special interests include polymer chemistry and materials science, industrial inorganic and organic chemistry, engineering plastics, problems in solid waste management and the recovery and recycling of post-consumer plastics. Among his recent publications are two practical manuals on principles and practices of infrared spectroscopy and a general chemistry textbook for engineers and scientists. He holds a BS in chemistry from Marietta College and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Maryland at College Park.

George Wise is a communications specialist at the General Electric Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York. He holds a BS in engineering physics from Lehigh University, an MS in physics from University of Michigan, and a PhD in history from Boston University. He worked briefly as a systems engineer before entering his current career in public relations. He has published a book and several articles about the history of industrial research, invention and science. His current research interest is how people can learn from history.

Physical location

Oral history number 0057

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • July 23, 1929
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • August 14, 2017


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1950 University of Alberta BSc Chemistry
1952 University of Alberta MSc Chemistry
1955 University of Illinois at Chicago PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of Alberta

  • 1950 to 1952 Instructor

General Electric Company

  • 1955 to 1968 Research Chemist
  • 1968 to 1980 Manager, Chemical Laboratory, Research and Development Center
  • 1980 Research and Development Manager, Chemical Science and Engineering

University of Massachusetts

  • 1975 Adjunct Professor, Polymer Science and Engineering Department


Year(s) Award
1970 Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences
1975 International Award in Plastics Science and Engineering, Society of Plastics Engineers
1977 Rauscher Memorial Lecturer, Society of Plastics Engineers
1981 Fellow of the Royal Society of London
1984 Achievement Award, Industrial Research Institute
1985 Carothers Award
1985 Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists

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PDF — 384 KB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

6 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads