BASF can trace its roots back to 1865 when Friedrich Engelhorn started producing electricity and natural gas for the town of Mannheim in German-speaking Baden. BASF is the initials for Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik (Badin Anilin and Soda Factory in English). Tar was a natural by-product of the natural gas process, which Engelhorn used to make dyes. BASF was created for the production of chemicals needed to create the dyes.
On 28 July 1948, an explosion occurred at a BASF site in Ludwigshafen, killing 207 people and injuring 3818. In the 1950s, BASF added synthetics such as nylon to its product range. The company had already developed polystyrene in the 1930s and invented Styropor in 1951.
Today, BASF is the largest chemical producer in the world, with subsidiaries and joint ventures in at least 80 countries, and customers in more than 190 countries. Despite its size, the company receives very little attention since it stopped manufacturing and producing products with the BASF name or logo.
Headquarters for the North American division of BASF are located in Florham Park, New Jersey.