Vinyl was a breakthrough material in World War II, as the nation's supply of natural rubber dwindled and scientists were scrambling to find a synthetic material that could replace it. Flexible vinyl had been invented several years earlier by a scientist at The BFGoodrich Company in search of just such a rubber substitute, but this new material was not yet in wide commercial use. At the time, most wires and cables were insulated with rubber and covered by a textile braid. It was the U.S. Armed Forces which first specified vinyl as a replacement for rubber and textile braid jacketing in wires and cables, first on aircraft carriers and later in other applications.
Vinyl quickly became known as a superior insulating material, offering manufacturers and specifiers exceptional fire safety, easier processability and greater durability. Before vinyl, moisture and textile lint often fouled up telephone transmissions. Textile coverings were particularly prone to abrasion and damage and were heavy and difficult to install. Vinyl provided a solution to many of these problems, and, most importantly, had inherent fire-resistant qualities which could also be enhanced with flame-retardant additives.
By all accounts, vinyl electrical materials revolutionized the power and communications industry, providing safety and performance characteristics that continue to be important today. And now, vinyl is on the leading edge of the high-tech telecommunications industry, protecting the lines that bring us high-speed data and voice communications, satellite transmissions and fiber optics.