Inventor: John Boyd Dunlop
Famous Invention: Pneumatic Tyres
Biography : John Boyd Dunlop was born in 1840 in the town of Ayrshire,
Scotland. As a young man he became a veterinary surgeon in partnership
with his brother, a profession which he practiced first in Edinburgh,
Scotland and sometime later in Belfast, Ireland.
He was the inventor of pneumatic tyres,
sort of. By that I mean that while he did invent them, and succeeded in
patening them, someone else, a man by the name of Robert Thompson, had
also invented them and since Thompson’s patent was the earliest
registered, John Boyd Dunlap’s paten was revoked.
The story of how John Boyd Dunlap came to
make pneumatic tyres in the first place is an interesting one. It was
quite a leap from veterinary medicine to working to perfect some sort of
air filled rubber tyres. It seems that Dunlap’s son, a small boy at the
time, complained about how uncomfortable it was riding his tricycle on
the cobblestone pavement outside his home and much preferred riding in
the house for comfort but enjoyed the adventure of riding outside.
Dunlap’s son asked him if he could make the
outside ride more comfortable and Dunlap accepted the challenge of the
John Boyd Dunlop
He experimented with different ways of using a rubber
hose. He eventually slit it and fitted it onto the wheels of the
tricycle, filling it with air. He gave the tricycle back to his son who
took it for a trial run and declared it a complete success.
Although Dunlap couldn’t claim to be the
original inventor of the pneumatic tyre, he did set out to make the best
He was able to patent his particular model of the pneumatic tyre in
Great Britain in 1888 and later was able to patent it in the United
States in 1890.
Dunlap went into business with an Irish
business man by the name of W. H. DuCros and together they formed the
Dunlap Rubber Company which became an international business. Dunlap
pneumatic tyres were widely used on both bicycles and early automobiles
but the biggest success that Dunlap valued was the success that he
achieved in his young son’s eyes of being able to give him the best
tricycle of all the kids in the neighborhood.
John Boyd Dunlop on his pneumatic tyres bicycle