PRODUCTS: Requiem for a Polymer

Ever since Du Pont scientists in the 1930s mixed coal tar, air and water to produce nylon, the wizards of Wilmington, Del., have been searching and researching for another equally profitable synthetic smash. By 1964, Du Pont chemists thought that they had found it: a porous polymer that looked and felt like leather, yet wore like armor plate. The company thereupon introduced Corfam, a weatherproof shoe material, predicting that by 1984 every fourth foot in the country would be encased in it. Du Pont stock rose to an all-time top of 293¾.

Last week Du Pont announced that, after seven years...

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