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B.C. The nude look is in.

1500 B.C. The Egyptians invent underwear. (The significance of this is largely ignored until Cecil B. De Mille films "The Ten Commandments.")

A.D. 1589 William Lee of Nottinghamshire, England, invents the knitting machine. Hosiery can now be produced mechanically rather than by hand.

1876 Silk lingerie is manufactured, replacing wool and cotton underwear. The word "lingerie" is borrowed from the French by Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book.

1915 Silk lingerie becomes generally accepted. (Conservative religious leaders and moralists question its link to promiscuity, licentiousness and good clean fun.)

1938 Du Pont introduces Fiber 66, later called nylon, a thermoplastic polyamide made from coal, air and water. As war clouds loom, German researchers concurrently develop Type 6 nylon, which becomes, in the words of a textile encyclopedia, "the standard for the Axis."

1940 Nylon hosiery is sold in stores.

1942 Nylon goes to war. Production is devoted to military uses, which forces thousands of women to draw seams on the backs of their legs with eyebrow pencils.

1950s The first waist-high garment resembling panty hose is developed for dancers. Not sold to public.

1959 North Carolina's Glen Raven Mill invents the "pantyleg," nylon stockings sewn to panties. Not immediately popular. (It sells about as well as Egyptian underwear.)

1961 Du Pont's spandex ("elastomeric man-made fibers"), an anagram of "expands," goes into commercial production.

1969 Panty-hose research leaps forward with panties knitted into legs. Miniskirts boost panty-hose sales. (Concurrently, popularity of pants sparks sales of knee-highs.)

1970 L'eggs -- the first national brand of panty hose -- revolutionizes the industry. Unique plastic egg packaging cuts costs and production time by eliminating "boarding," a heating process that molds hose into the shape of a woman's leg.

1973 Football star Joe Namath wears Hanes' "Beauty Mist" panty hose in TV commercials.

1974 Joe Namath doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

1980s Sheer threads of spandex are now commonly woven with nylon for enhanced support and fit. New colors, styles and applique's move panty hose from utilitarian to high fashion.

1987 Thigh-highs topped with sexy lace and ruffles are introduced, leading daring women to wear them with miniskirts.

1987 The United States produces more hosiery than ever before. Panty hose accounts for 70 percent of all women's sheer hosiery sold. One hundred eighteen million pairs are sold, amounting to $2.1 billion in sales, according to the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers, which says women on the average use 13 1/2 pairs of panty hose annually. (Some women say that on a bad day they go through this many before lunch.)

1988 Actress Loni Anderson shows off her sheer support panty hose in TV commercials. An unscientific poll says her legs are better than Joe Namath's (who still doesn't want to talk about it).
1988 The September issue of Hosiery News, a trade magazine, queries manufacturers after receiving consumer requests for sources of men's panty hose. (Is there a market for anatomically correct panty hose?)

2088 Archeologists unearth billions of plastic eggs. They conclude the greenhouse effect produced a race of giant mutant polymer birds that ate the entire industrialized world.

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