December 29, 1800 – Charles Goodyear is born

Charles Goodyear did not start Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, but he is often credited with inventing vulcanized rubber that allowed for the manufacture and long term use of rubber products, including tires. Goodyear, born on this day in 1800, was a self taught chemist who became obsessed with natural rubber, referred to as gum elastic, in the early 1830s. It was found that products could be created from rubber, including life preservers, but they would frail and fall apart after several months. Goodyear worked out a way to lengthen the life of rubber through vulcanization, which includes mixing and heating chemicals. He received a US patent in June of 1844, but an Englishman by the name of Thomas Hancock had a patent pending in England eight weeks prior to Goodyear’s. It wasn’t until 38 years after Goodyear died that Frank Seiberling founded Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, naming it in honor of Charles. Portrait of Charles GoodyearTire manufacturing today is slightly more advanced than how workers did it in early Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company manufacturing plants. Photo courtesy Goodyear.

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