History of Rubber
In its native regions of Central American and South America, rubber has been collected for a long time. Mesoamerican people (which include Aztecs, Olmecs, and Mayans) were making rubber over 3,000 years ago. By mixing milky-white sap, known as latex, from Rubber tress with juices from morning glory vines, they formed a solid that was unexpectedly, rather sturdy. Civilizations used rubber for balls, containers, strips to hold stone and metal tools, and even understood the use for water-resistant clothing.
In 1735, a French scientist by the name of Charles de la Condamine, visited South America, and returned to Europe with the first ever samples of rubber. Theses samples lead to the first scientific study of rubber.
The name “Rubber” was credited to Joseph Prestley, a British chemist who also discovered oxygen. In 1770, Prestley observed that a piece of the material was extremely good for rubbing pencil markings off paper, hence the name “Rubber”.
Charles Goodyear, a self-taught scientist, opened up the uses for rubber considerably, by discovering the vulcanization of rubber in 1839. Goodyear’s vulcanized rubber was a more durable and non-sticky rubber compound created through the addition of sulfur and heat. Goodyear’s vulcanization process vastly improved rubber beyond its natural state.
During this time, Brazil was the original home of the rubber tree and the tree’s range had expanded only as far as Central America. But that would soon change. In 1876, a British businessman managed to smuggle rubber tree seeds from South America to the British colonies in Southeast Asia. By 1910, the center of the global rubber market shifted from the Amazon to Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
In the early 20th century, Ohio arose as the leader of rubber production in the United States with the advent of the automobile and bicycle. Many rubber companies operated in or near Akron, Ohio, making the city the "Rubber Capital of the World." Though rubber manufacturing remains an essential part of Akron's economy, the city is no longer the worldwide leader.
Today, rubber usage is widespread and can be found in virtually all economic areas: automobiles, plastics, civil construction, hospital materials and others that are of essential importance in the everyday life of society. People have discovered amazing applications for rubber including building entire homes with recycled pieces of rubber.