JÁNOS IRINYI (1817 - 1895)

János Irinyi was born in Nagyléta, and acquired his chemical knowledge at the Vienna Polytechnikum. During one of his professor's experiments, he solved the puzzle of making silent matches. After long hours of experimentation he patented his invention of silent and non-explosive matches in 1836. In the heads of the matches he mixed the phosphor with lead dioxide instead of calcium chlorate. Irinyi sold his invention to a manufacturer of matches, and went for a study tour abroad. He was a student at the famous Agricultural College in Berlin. After returning home he founded the first factories for matches in Pest in different parts of the city. He wrote several articles on chemistry and published his textbook for schools entitled The Elements of Chemistry.

Irinyi played an important part in the revolution of 1848 and 49. Kossuth assigned him to direct the manufacture of guns and gunpowder, and put him in charge of supervising the national factories. After the failed revolution he was sentenced to jail. When he won freedom he retired from political life and continued his scientific work exclusively. In the realm of common knowledge only his association with matches is remembered. Yet Irinyi was one of the first people to spread general knowledge about the new chemistry, and played a significant part in the development of the Hungarian technical language of chemistry.

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