Baekeland, Leo Hendrik (bākˈlănd) [key], 1863–1944, American chemist, b. Belgium, grad. Univ. of Ghent, 1882. In 1889 he emigrated to the United States. He founded (1893) and conducted, until 1899, when he sold the rights to Eastman, a company for producing a photographic paper of his own invention. In 1909 he announced his invention of Bakelite, the first important synthetic plastic, and from 1910 to 1939 he served as president of the Bakelite Corp. He wrote Some Aspects of Industrial Chemistry (1914).