Hyatt, John (Wesley)(1837–1920) inventor; born in Starkey, N.Y. An energetic apprentice printer, he embarked on a long career as an inventor with a knife sharpener in 1861. He later developed a water filter, a multiple-needle sewing machine, and the Hyatt roller bearing, which he began producing in his own factory in 1892. His best-known discovery, made in the search of a substitute for the ivory used in billiard balls, was the plastic celluloid, which he created in 1869–70 by mixing pyroxylin, camphor, and alcohol.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.