Company History from Prestone:
Originally, motorists drove cars without heaters or side windows, making winter driving very unpleasant. In addition, it was extremely difficult to start a car in cold weather. The eventual development of car heaters and side windows, and the improvement of engines and lubricants led to more winter driving and the requirement of antifreeze/coolant. Many compounds were used with water, such as honey, sugar, molasses and, the most popular, methyl alcohol. Despite good cooling ability, alcohol had the significant drawbacks of boilaway, odor and flammability. Motorists were perpetually uncertain about their freezing protection.
The company was formed in 1917 as Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, acquiring four earlier companies: Linde Air Products Company (established 1907), National Carbon Company (1899), Prest-O-Lite Company, Inc. (1913), and Union Carbide Company (1898). It assumed the name Union Carbide Corporation in 1957.
Formed during wartime, the company immediately took on the manufacture of new diversified products, providing helium, ferrozirconium, and activated carbon for the U.S. military, thus setting the pattern for the company’s future development. After World War I, it retained its chemicals business and moved into the consumer field, becoming one of the first companies to use market research to discover potential consumer needs and creating products to fill them. Early products of this type were the first antifreeze, Prestone (introduced in 1927), and the first batteries for portable radios, under the Eveready brand (introduced in 1959).