Men of Metal : John Boyd Dunlop
As bizarre as one might think it is, a veterinary surgeon made travelling on wheels comfortable. The man was John Boyd Dunlop who invented the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre. He was born on 14 February 1840 at a farm in North Aryshire and practiced as a veterinary surgeon first in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then in Belfast, Ireland.
The invention of the pneumatic tyre was more or less by chance. His small son was prescribed cycling as a cure for his cold, but he was finding it difficult to cycle on the cobbled streets of Belfast owing to the solid rubber tyres of the tricycle. To help his son out, in 1887 Dunlop started thinking of ideas to make his ride comfortable. He felt by fitting inflated tubes inside the tyres it would make his ride smooth and for that he cut up an old garden hose, made it into a tube and pumped it with air - and thus he came up with the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre.
In 1888 he patented his design based on an inflated tyre and in the following year Dunlop Tyres began production of pneumatic tyres at a factory in Dublin. To promote his pneumatic tyres he asked Willi Fume to race on his bicycle equipped with pneumatic tyres and it was a successful strategy as he was able to win all the four cycling events at the Queens College Sports in Belfast and later in Liverpool. After its introduction in 1888, Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres became standard equipment for most bicycles.