The inventor, chemist and donator Alfred Nobel (1833–1896) was born in an engineering family in Stockholm and lived with his family in St. Petersburg from the age of 9 years.
In 1859, after returning to Sweden, Alfred Nobel started working in his father’s company and performed experiments with nitroglycerine. Together with his father and his brother Emil, he developed an improved explosive technology which was patented in 1863. Thereafter, he constructed the detonator which made it safer to handle nitroglycerine. The new explosive was called blasting oil and industrial production was started with the help of foreign loans.
In 1864, a violent laboratory explosion took place in which several people were killed, including his brother. Nevertheless, Alfred Nobel continued his work and formed Nitroglycerin AB together with his father to meet the growing demand. Production later started in Germany, Norway and USA.
Alfred Nobel further developed the explosive and in 1866–67, he was granted a patent for dynamite in a number of countries. In the 1870s, he produced gelignite, which was more flexible and more powerful than dynamite, and later also ballistite, a new smokeless powder for firearms.
Alfred Nobel eventually possessed more than 350 patents and built up companies and laboratories in more than 20 countries across the world. He also wrote poetry and theatrical dramas and seriously considered becoming an author. The promotion of peace was very dear to him and he took intellectual nourishment from literature, while science was the basis of his own activity as a technological researcher and inventor.