Charles Goodyear: The great vulcanizer
Natural rubber (also known as "India rubber" or "caoutchouc"), the milky sap of rubber trees, is not a very practical commodity. It melts in hot weather or cracks and freezes in cold weather. In 1839, Charles Goodyear came across a process that made rubber so useful it changed the world we live in. A century later, on the eve of World War II, there were 122 rubber factories in Ohio, including Firestone Tire & Rubber, U. S. Rubber, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Akron was the rubber capital of the nation, probably the world. Yet Goodyear had never set foot in Akron. The rubber arrived there in 1869, nine years after his death, with the founding of Goodrich -- not Goodyear -- Tire & Rubber. And Goodyear Tire & Rubber, the world's largest rubber company, was founded two years later by the Seiberling family, no relationship to Goodyear. They only used his name!