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Bob Gore (1937–2020), inventor of Gore-Tex

by Linnea Crowther

Robert W. “Bob” Gore was the former president and chairman of W.L. Gore & Associates, best known for inventing Gore-Tex fabric.

Family business

W.L. Gore & Associates was founded by Gore’s father, Bill, who had worked for DuPont prior to starting his business. Gore began contributing while he was still in college, making a suggestion that led to a breakthrough in the development of an insulated wire that he patented as Multi-Tet cable. Gore joined the family business as a research associate after receiving his Ph.D. in chemical engineering. In 1969, he was working on a process for creating pipe thread tape when he accidentally created a fabric that was both porous and waterproof. Recognizing the great usefulness of this breathable and weatherproof material, he trademarked it as Gore-Tex, and it became a popular fabric for outdoor gear. Gore-Tex has also been invaluable in medical applications as a material for burn bandages and in vascular grafts. In later years, Gore led the company, and he was a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Gore on his creation of a new material

“I didn’t know exactly what I had, but I knew I had something unique.” —from a 1988 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle

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Tributes to Bob Gore

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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