1. Pioneering times

1863 - 1885

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Solvay was created in 1863 as a start-up enterprise manufacturing sodium carbonate with a radically new industrial process.  This was the dawn of the second industrial revolution, an era of a dogmatic belief in progress through science and industry. Electricity was just being invented, and new processes were expanding the applications of chemistry even before the advent of the oil age. Edison, Nobel, Bell, Marconi - and Ernest Solvay - were emblematic inventors-entrepreneurs of this period. After a few years of technical difficulties, the business rapidly grew out as one of the largest multinational companies and, as such encompassed diverse national cultures.