Otto Wallach


Otto Wallach
(1847-1931)

Otto Wallach was born on March 27, 1847, in Konigsberg, Germany, the son of Gerhard Wallach and his wife, nee Otillie Thoma. His father was a high-ranking civil servant.
In 1867 he went to Gottingen to study chemistry with Wohler, Fitig and Hubner but soon left for Berlin to study for one semester under A. W. Hoffman and G. Magnus. After his return to Gottingen he worked so hard that he managed to obtain his doctor's degree-in 1869 under Hubner- after studying for only five semesters. His thesis dealt with the position isomers in the toluene series.

In 182 he returned to Born, where he stayed for 19 years. He first became assistant in the organic laboratory, and later was appointed Privatdozent. In 1876 came his appointment as Professor Extraordinary. When in 1879 the Chair of Pharmacology became vacant he was obliged to occupy it, which forced him to specialize in this direction. It was during this period that he discovered the iminochlorides by the action of phosphorous pentachloride on the acid amides.

Already in his first publication he raised the question of the diversity of the various members of the C10H16 group, which in current practice at that time came under a multitude of names ranging from terpene to camphene, citrene, carvene, cinene, cajuputene, eucalyptine, hesperidine, etc. Utilizing common reagents such as hydrogen chloride and hydrogen bromide, he succeeded in characterizing the differences between the structure of these compounds. Mention should also be made of his other investigations; the conversion of chloral into dichloroacetic acid, the series of studies on the amide chlorides, imide chlorides, amidines, glyoxalines, etc., his work on azo dyes and diazo compounds, and many others.
Wallach remained a bachelor throughout his life, and died on February 26, 1931.



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