S. Donald Stookey, the man whose accidental discovery of glass ceramics led to the development of CorningWare, died Tuesday. He was 99.
"He was one of the great glass scientists in the history of the world," Steve Feller, a physics professor at Stookey's alma mater, Coe College, told The Associated Press. "Virtually everyone has had CorningWare at some point in time, and there were all sorts of spinoff applications from his fantastic work."
In 1952, Stookey was conducting research on the properties of glass, and the oven he was using overheated to 1,600 degrees. He was surprised to find that the glass inside was opaque, and that when he accidentally dropped the plate, it didn't shatter. This was the beginning of CorningWare, which remains popular to this day and has sold millions and millions of pieces.
Stookey made some profits, but never became rich from his invention, his son told AP. Over the course of his career, he earned 60 U.S. patents, including one for photosensitive glass. "I thought this might be a field where I could find something new, invent things not seen before, and I was lucky to have that be the case," he said during a 2011 interview.