1960 The birth control pill is approved for use in the U.S. Carl Djerassi and Alejandro Zaffaroni developed it in the 1950s from yam extracts in a lab in Mexico.

1960 Theodore H. Maiman demonstrates the first working laser.

1961 M. Patricia Jevons finds strains of Staphylococcus aureus resistant to the antibiotic methicillin.

1961 Walt Disney’s “The Absent-Minded Professor” invents Flubber on the silver screen. The professor was based in part on Princeton University chemist Hubert Alyea.

1961 Countries begin to pull the morning-sickness aid thalidomide from the market because it causes severe birth defects.

1962 Neil Bartlett proves that noble gases can form chemical compounds by preparing XePtF6.

1962 Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” alerts the public to environmental damage from industrial chemicals, including DDT.


1962 The Quantum Chemistry Program Exchange (QCPE) begins. It provides an inexpensive way for theoretical chemists and other scientists to exchange software.

1963 Hoffmann-La Roche launches the sedative Valium (diazepam).

1964 First commercial quadrupole mass spectrometer debuts.

1964 Chemical Abstracts Service introduces the CAS Registry, the first computer-based system for storing chemical representations.

1965 Robert Burns Woodward and Roald Hoffmann put forth the Woodward-Hoffmann rules to explain stereochemistry in chemical reactions.

1965 DuPont chemist Stephanie L. Kwolek invents the strong but light polymer Kevlar.

1965 Isaac Asimov publishes “A Short History of Chemistry.”

1966 Weston A. Anderson and Richard R. Ernst develop Fourier transform NMR, laying the groundwork for modern NMR spectroscopy.

1967 “Plastics.” The film “The Graduate” (pictured) immortalizes an industry.

1967 Monroe E. Wall and Mansukh C. Wani isolate the future cancer drug Taxol (paclitaxel) from the bark of the Pacific yew tree.

1968 George C. Cotzias shows that the psychoactive drug levodopa is effective against symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Download C&EN 90th Anniversary Poster Timeline (pdf)