Corning is a legend of American innovation. The glass company has been around since 1851 and it has constantly adapted its products to meet the needs of the latest technology. It started out developing the glass bulbs for Thomas Edison‘s first electric lights [source: CNBC]. By 1908, glass bulbs accounted for half of Corning’s business [source: Corning].

But that was only the first use of glass for the company. In 1915, it came up with Pyrex, heat-resistant glassware you could put in the oven. In 1952, a Corning engineer named S. Donald Stooky accidentally overheated a piece of photosensitive glass, which crystallized the glass into a white, durable material that became CorningWare, an oven-proof product for cooking and baking [source: Corning].

In the 1970s, Corning engineers were some of the first to produce fiber optic cables capable of transmitting huge amounts of data compared with traditional copper. Today, fiber optics are still Corning’s biggest moneymaker, providing millions of miles of transmission lines for companies like Verizon [source: CNBC].

In 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs asked Corning to create a scratch-proof and drop-resistant glass for its new product, the iPhone. Today, Gorilla Glass has not only been installed on every generation of iPhone, but also phones made by Samsung, Google and LG. Carmaker Jeep even offers Gorilla Glass an option for Wrangler windshields [source: Corning].

Corning is still headquartered in Corning, New York, one of the last American “company towns,” but the global corporation has 108 plants in 15 countries with more than 51,000 employees [source: CNBC]

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