Most tires utilized in modern times are considered to be pneumatic tires. The use of rubber in tires enabled the invention of pneumatic tires that allowed for a much more comfortable ride. The contemporary transportation system of the world relies completely on pneumatic tires.
The pneumatic tire is a toughened rubber tire and is then compressed with air. Motor vehicles like airplanes, motorcycles, trucks, buses and cars all utilize pneumatic tires. Non-motorized wheeled vehicles, such as bicycles, also use pneumatic tires.
The history of tires begins with the invention of iron bands around wooden wheels. The utilization of solid rubber in the construction of tires started during the middle part of the 19th century. The first patent for a successful pneumatic tire was issued in 1888 to Irishman John Dunlop who created an inner-tube for a bicycle tire in 1888. This was when the word "pneumatic" appeared to describe tires.
Seven years after, in 1895, Edouard and Andre Michelin made pneumatic tires for a car in France. The company of the Michelin brothers was destined to become a top manufacturer of car tires. The very first company in the United States to make tires was Goodyear Tire company founded in 1898, followed by the Firestone Tire & Rubber company in the year 1900, the second company in the United States to produce tires.
For the first part of the 20th century, pneumatic tires required a rubber inner tube to hold the air pressure. Tires were constructed of reinforced layers of cord or plies covered with rubber. The plies were laid on a bias or angle to strengthen it and to define the shape of the tire. These "bias ply" tires had a tread pattern for traction.
Modern radial tires are made with the plies running at 90 degrees across the tire body. Inner tube is not necessary since the tire forms an airtight seal with the wheel. This was the Michelin's brother's invention in 1948. The tires did not become widely utilized until the latter parts of the 1970s. Radial tires last longer and provide better fuel economy.