Since its inception in 1851, Corning Inc. has always fostered a culture of creativity and risk-taking. The benefits of this mindset have proved invaluable throughout the company’s history, as it weathered a roller coaster of technological advances by developing everything from auto and railroad parts, to light bulbs, televisions, telescopes, kitchen wares, camera lenses, and perhaps the biggest, fiber optics.

To learn about how Gorilla glass changed the display industry forever, keep reading on the next page.

Of all of the prescient moves in Corning’s storied history, perhaps the most important came in the early-1900s when they built the first corporate research labs in the U.S. staffed by chemists, physicists, engineers and other glass technologists. The first success-turned-challenge story flew right out of the gate: the glass they created was unbreakable and subsequently too durable to need replacing.

At a time when other competing companies were striving to stabilize or develop their technology, Corning was already processing its innovations. By forming strong partnerships with other pioneering brands and organizations, including Bausch + Lomb, Eastman Kodak, American Optical, and Carnegie Institution and Mellon Institute, they soon widened the gap by absorbing other technological benefits into their own workflow.

Today, [Gorilla] glass is used on nearly 20-percent of the world’s mobile devices

Corning successfully boosted onto the consumer radar in the 1930s, by building a 200-inch telescope mirror for the Mount Palomar telescope after a highly publicized failed attempt by General Electric. Through the production process of the telescope mirror, researchers at Corning discovered the early stages of vapor deposition, which led to their proprietary ownership of the fiber optics market in the 1960s. It was also at this time the company experimented with chemically strengthened glass, an initiative called “Project Muscle.”

The company had developed a knack for anticipating consumer product opportunities early on, and in 2006 “Project Muscle” was revived as Gorilla Glass, to deliver lightweight, strong and scratch-resistant glass for electronic devices and consumer electronics. Today, the glass is used on nearly 20-percent of the world’s mobile devices, as well as 600 different products including HD tablets, notebooks, ultrabooks and TVs.

Gorilla Glass is created by treating standard glass to a 750 °F bath of molten potassium salt, which allows potassium ions to embed deep into the glass, creating a highly compressed end product. Improvements upon this process have allowed the next generation of Gorilla Glass to be 20-percent thinner than the original, improving touch sensitivity. The resulting benefits of Gorilla Glass is an ultra-thin damage-resistant glass sheet that can withstand almost any impact you throw at it, literally.

To learn more, check out the history of Gorilla Glass on Corning’s website, or watch the videos below.

Additional contribution by Ben Bowers and Eric Yang