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December 29, 1800 – Charles Goodyear is born

Charles Goodyear didn’t found Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, but it is named after the self taught chemist. Goodyear, born on this day in 1800, became obsessed with natural rubber and its properties. Commonly referred to as gum elastic in the 1830s, rubber made up many products at the time, including life preservers. Unfortunately these products suffered from poor durability, as they’d disintegrate after just a few months. Then Goodyear stepped up to the plate.

The young chemist developed a life extending process for rubber, which became known as vulcanization. It involved the heating and mixing of chemicals to strengthen the original material. For his method he received a patent in 1844. However, an Englishman by the name of Thomas Hancock filed for a patent for a similar process eight weeks prior in the UK. Manufacturers favored Goodyear’s method, ultimately giving him credit for inventing vulcanized rubber.

Top: Charles Goodyear. Above: Early rubber automobile tire manufacturing.

Fast forward to 1898, 38 years after Goodyear died, Frank Seiberling founded Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, naming it in honor of Charles. The company’s new automobile tires became popular due to their durability and the simple process required to change them. As of 2017, Goodyear was one of the top four global tire manufacturers in the world along with Bridgestone, Continental and Michelin.

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