The History of Safety Eyewear In 1903, French scientist Edouard Benedictus made a clumsy mistake that led to his invention of safety glass. He was climbing a ladder in his laboratory to retrieve reagents from a shelf when he knocked a glass flask to the floor. He heard the glass shatter but then, to his astonishment, discovered that the pieces of the broken flask still hung together, essentially in their original contour. Benedictus inspected the situation and found the flask had recently held a solution of cellulose nitrate, a liquid plastic. Although it had evaporated or been washed out of the flask, it appeared to have deposited a thin coating of plastic on the flask's interior.
Shortly thereafter, when reading a story in the Paris newspaper about a recent rash of automobile accidents in which drivers were seriously injured by shattered glass windshields, Benedictus had the idea to experiment with the liquid plastic by using it to coat glass and thereby create safety glass that could be used in automobile windshields.