Most tires used 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 more comfortable ride. The world's contemporary transportation system completely relies on pneumatic tires.
A pneumatic tire is a type of tire made of reinforced rubber and filled with compressed air. Motor vehicles like for example motorcycles, airplanes, trucks, buses and cars all use pneumatic tires. Wheeled vehicles that are not motorized, such as bicycles, also utilize pneumatic tires.
The history of tires begins with the creation of iron bands around wooden wheels. The use of solid rubber in the construction of tires started in the mid-19th century. The first patent for a successful pneumatic tire was issued in the year 1888 to Irishman John Dunlop who created an inner-tube for a bicycle tire in the year 1888. This was when the word "pneumatic" began to describe tires.
In the year 1895, Andre and Edouard Michelin made the first pneumatic tires for automobiles 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 produce tires was Goodyear Tire company established in the year 1898, followed by the Firestone Tire & Rubber company in the year 1900, the second company in the US to produce tires.
For the first half of the 20th century, pneumatic tires required a rubber inner tube in order to hold the air pressure. Tires were constructed of reinforced layers of cord or plies covered with rubber. The plies were laid on an angle or bias 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 constructed with the plies running at 90 degrees across the body of the tire. They need no inner tube as the tire forms an airtight seal with the wheel. This was the Michelin's brother's creation in the year 1948. The tires did not become commonly used until the late 1970s. Radial tires last longer and offer better fuel economy.