Goodyear made rubber last (1800)

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Friday, 29 December 2017

1800 -

Imagine this; you invent something that has the potential of getting you filthy rich and change the future of an entire industry. Still you die in debt. It happened to Charles Goodyear. He developed vulcanized rubber. The rubber was pliable and for the first time it could be used to make footwear and car tires. Goodyear was born today in the year 1800.

Finding this procedure became Goodyear's lifework after he heard of gum elastic for the first time in the 1830's. A way to manufacture rubber was already found by then, but the products became sticky or even rotted. Goodyear kept experimenting with rubber and even sold his furniture and placed his family in a boarding place to move to a New York attic to be able to continue his research.

Finally, he found a way to vulcanize gum to preserve the material much longer. He perfected it and patented the procedure in 1844. He wanted to get a British patent as well, but he was too late. Thomas Hancock claimed to have invented vulcanization independently. Goodyear lost the lawsuits that followed and died with a $200.000 debt. After his death, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was founded. It was named after Goodyear, but there was no family connection whatsoever.

360 trivial fact
The first rubber tires were white, because it's the natural colour of rubber. In the 1900's it was found out that black carbon made the tires last even longer.


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