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 colour 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-coloured fabrics made possible by Perkin’s dye.