Wired has a fascinating read on how Gorilla Glass came about. You might think that a scientist laboriously worked doing calculus equations or a chemist mixing various ingredients to perfect the perfect glass for mobile devices and tablets. You would be wrong. Gorilla Glass, or at least its forerunner that led to Gorilla Glass was discovered by sheer accident! Via Wired:
Don Stookey knew he had botched the experiment. One day in 1952, the Corning Glass Works chemist placed a sample of photosensitive glass inside a furnace and set the temperature to 600 degrees Celsius. At some point during the run, a faulty controller let the temperature climb to 900 degrees C. Expecting a melted blob of glass and a ruined furnace, Stookey opened the door to discover that, weirdly, his lithium silicate had transformed into a milky white plate. When he tried to remove it, the sample slipped from the tongs and crashed to the floor. Instead of shattering, it bounced.
So Gorilla Glass was invented in 1952 - take that Apple fanboys that believe the Apple iPhone spurred the invention of hardened glass. Ever wonder why windshields aren't made of Gorilla Glass? Apparently, it was tried by American Motors. The article explains, "Corning had invented an expensive [windshield] upgrade nobody wanted. It didn’t help that crash tests found that “head deceleration was significantly higher” on the windshields—the Chemcor might remain intact, but human skulls would not." The "upgrade" no one wanted changed with the advent of the iPhone.
Some other fascinating history about Corning, including "secret" ingredients in the manufacturing process (paging Colonel Sanders), and how Corning worked with Steve Jobs to create the perfect glass for the iPhone. Go check out the article for a good read.