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Balloon History

Definition according to Oxford English Dictionary: balloon

noun 1. a small rubber bag which is inflated and used as a toy or a decoration. 
           2. a large bag filled with hot air or gas to make it rise in the air, with a basket for passengers handing from it.
           3. a rounded outline in which the words or thoughts of a characters ina comic strip or cartoon are written.

verb 1 swell out in a spherical shape. 
  2  increase rapidly.

- PHRASES when the balloon goes up informal when the action or trouble starts
- DERIVATIVES ballooning noun balloonist noun
- ORIGIN French ballon or Italian ballone ‘large ball’.

Balloons have been used for many centuries, originally jesters and other court entertainers, to inflate and make shapes, used animal bladders and entrails.

According to the ‘Book of Firsts’ by Patrick Robertson, Bramhall House, NY, 1978:
Professor Michael Faraday made the first rubber balloons in 1824 for use in his experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London

Latex balloons, as we know them today were first manufactured by J.G. Ingram of London in 1847.
Hydrogen was originally used by Faraday to inflate balloons.  Hydrogen brought play and joy to the balloon world, but it also brought an equal or greater amount of danger.  Hydrogen easily explodes and catches fire.  Hydrogen was eventually replaced by helium, a non-flammable gas.  Although hydrogen had one-tenth more lifting power, helium was much safer making it possible for balloons to have a variety of uses.
It is said that The Toy Balloon Company of New York in the 1920’s released 50,000 helium filled balloons at one time, each being printed with an advertiser’s name and bore a tag which offered a prize to the finder. 




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