Charles Goodyear

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Charles Goodyear

Charles Nelson Goodyear (born December 29, 1800 in New Haven , Connecticut , † July 1, 1860 in New York ) was an American chemist , inventor and amateur researcher . Goodyear introduced the vulcanization of rubber into production and thus laid the foundations for today's rubber industry. He is the inventor of hard rubber .


Charles Goodyear was born the first of six children to Amasa and Cynthia Goodyear. At the age of 17 he got a job in the large trading house Rogers Brothers in Philadelphia. In 1821, however, he went back to his hometown and became a business partner in his father's company, an agricultural machinery manufacturer. In 1824 Charles Goodyear married Clarissa Beecher, who also lived in New Haven. Two years later, he opened a hardware store in Philadelphia , selling his father's products.

Charles Goodyear's health deteriorated from years of exposure to lead oxides, while he recorded the experiences of his life in two volumes, 12 of which were printed. Goodyear passed away in 1860, six months before his 60th birthday.


Charles Goodyear

Like many other inventors and entrepreneurs of his time, Goodyear experimented with rubber. He firmly believed that his experiments would be successful in business. Charles Goodyear founded his first factory for the production of waterproof rubber articles in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1833 . But the rubber turned out to be soft and sticky when it was hot, and brittle when it was cold. Goodyear, an autodidact in chemistry , was looking for a way to make him insensitive to extreme temperatures. After adding a wide variety of materials and chemicals to rubber, he came up with a solution in 1839 through a famous “scientific accident”: a sulfur- rubber mixture fell onto a hot stove, and the result was a dry and permanently elastic substance. The rubber mixed with sulfur turned into a new substance, rubber, when heated. That was how Goodyear discovered vulcanization.

Goodyear founded a company to develop rubber shoes and manufactured products such as tents that were in demand during the gold rush. On June 15, 1844, the United States Patent Office granted him patent number 3633 for vulcanizing rubber. It described the transformation of natural rubber into rubber. Goodyear called his invention "metallic gum elastic composition". A bitter battle ensued between Goodyear and his rival Horace Day for the authorship of the invention , which culminated in one of the most famous court cases of the 19th century .

Goodyear made further progress with the manufacture of hard rubber around 1850.

In 1851, Goodyear was invited to the first World's Fair in London , where it presented furniture and household items made of rubber. Goodyear invested $ 50,000 in a new exhibition in Paris , to which Napoléon III. came; there he was awarded the cross of the French Legion of Honor as an award for the honor pavilion (with rubber curtains) and another object .

In 1855 Goodyear manufactured the first rubber condom , which was produced in series in 1870 with a thickness of two millimeters and sewn.

As a businessman he was not very successful. Despite the patents, which were especially important for the later auto industry, Goodyear, who was sentenced to prison terms several times for not being able to repay his debts, remained penniless until his death. A newspaper once wrote about Goodyear: "When you see a man in shoes, with a rubber coat and hat, but without a penny in his pocket, you have Charles Goodyear in front of you."

Post fame

38 years after Charles Goodyear's death, Frank and Charles Seiberling named their newly founded company in his honor the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company , one of the world's leading tire manufacturers to this day.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Patent US3633 : Charles Guudyear. Published June 15, 1844 , inventor: Charles Goodyear.