The Invention Of The Pneumatic Rubber Tyre
Updated: Jul 10
Today, it is difficult to imagine a world without tyres. But before there were cars and roads, they did not exist – so how did we create our own transportation?
The story begins with an inventor named John B. Dunlop who invented the pneumatic tyre in 1888 as a way of reducing vibration from riding on unpaved, hard surfaces. In July 1887, he filed a petition for patent protection with the British Imperial Patent Office seeking legal protection for his new invention called "Improvements in Propelling-Engines". With this document came the birth of modern day rubber technology.
Following closely behind Dunlop was German inventor, Karl Benz who built his first car in 1886 and patented it in January 1888 under German law. This car design was the first that included multiple essential components including a four-stroke petrol engine, gasoline tank, carburettor and ignition system all of which are still integral parts to cars today.
Background information on tyre manufacturers:
The first company that produced tyres was André & Langen in 1824 in Germany however they quickly became bankrupt because there weren't enough people interested in their product at that time. The second company to produce tyres was Robert William Thomson who is most commonly known as R.W.Thomson of Edinburgh, Scotland (now Dunlop Tyres). Thomson was patented in 1845 and produced wire-bound, iron-shod tyres - however, the demand for these tyres were very low.
Thirdly, Charles Goodyear formed a company named 'Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.' with an office in the US and began producing rubber products which included; gaskets, hoses and of course car tyres (radial tyre production quickly followed). Shortly after this point, Michelin Tyre Company was established by Édouard and André Michelin in 1888 with headquarters based in France. These two companies are both still major players on the tyre market today.
"The first patent for pneumatic (inflated with air) tyres to be used on bicycles was filed by John B. Dunlop in 1888."
In 1897, a man named William Morrison created the first American car which used pneumatic tyres. In 1901 this company was incorporated as 'The Pneumatic Tyre and Booth Company'.
In 1902, Michelin developed the removable pneumatic tyre system that allowed motorists to change tyres without needing specialist tools or equipment – something we take for granted today. The 'Michelin Guide' was also published for the first time - a great reference book for things to see and do on a road trip!
In 1913 Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co-produced their steel-belted radial tyre which is often referred to as the first US "highway" or "touring" tyre. In 1923 they went on to produce the first tubeless tyre that was made of synthetic rubber. This design reduced the risk of accidents due to blowouts and allowed for higher speeds than ever before.
"The first pneumatic car tyre to be fitted on a production line was the "Clincher Tyre" (tyre design using ridges on the outer circumference) by Michelin in 1903."
These are just some of the highlights of an industry with so many milestones to be proud of. From powering vehicles forward to changing how they travel, tyres were there at every stage!
Here at Double D Tyres we stock all the major brands of tyres and have a 24 hour mobile tyre repair or replacement service.