Diaper innovations: The down and dirty

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1930s: Various companies sell "disposable diapers" that are really paper pads inserted into cloth diapers.

1950s: Procter & Gamble Co. chemical engineer Vic Mills starts developing disposable diapers for his grandchildren.

1961: P&G's Pampers rolls into its first test markets and by 1966 is in full national distribution. Rivals from Johnson & Johnson, Scott, Borden and International Paper eventually fall by the wayside.

1978: Kimberly-Clark launches Huggies, priced just ahead of Pampers, but with a better-shaped fit like Luvs and better absorbency and taping systems. Huggies begins a long period of growth at the expense of Pampers and Luvs, and the latter is recast as a value brand in the 1980s.

1984: Pampers launches its first shaped diaper to match Huggies.

1986: Pampers launches thin diaper with gelling polymers to lock in wetness.

1994: Huggies launches Supreme, featuring the first non-woven clothlike outer cover, stretch elastic "ears" and Velcro fasteners instead of tape.

1995: P&G counters with Pampers Premium, with features similar to Huggies Supreme but less stretchiness.

1997: Huggies launches Little Swimmers diapers.

2001: P&G launches Baby Stages of Development to replace Pampers Premium. Launch fuels turnaround for Pampers brand that had been declining since Huggies launched.

2004: P&G launches Pampers Feel 'n Learn training pants, which give kids a "temporary feeling of wetness" to aid potty training. Product eventually helps push P&G past 20% threshold in training pants; K-C launches a similar product in 2005.
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