Nearly all of the tires that have been used over the last 100 years have been pneumatic tires. They are constructed of rubber and allow for a far more comfy ride than other types of materials. The contemporary transportation system of the world relies entirely on pneumatic tires.
The pneumatic tire is a toughened rubber tire and is then compressed with air. Motorized vehicles like cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and airplanes all utilize pneumatic tires. Non-motorized wheeled vehicles, such as bicycles, also utilize pneumatic tires.
The history of tires starts with the creation of iron bands around wooden wheels. The utilization of solid rubber in the creation of tires started in the middle part of the 19th century. The first patent for a successful pneumatic tire was issued in 1888 to Irishman John Dunlop who invented an inner-tube for a bicycle tire. This was when the word "pneumatic" appeared to describe tires.
In 1895, Edouard and Andre Michelin made the first pneumatic tires for automobiles in France. The Michelin brothers' company was destined to become a leading producer of tires for cars. The first company in the United States to produce tires was Goodyear Tire company founded in 1898, followed by the Firestone Tire & Rubber company in 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 to hold the air pressure. Tires were made of reinforced layers of cord or plies covered with rubber. The plies were laid on a bias or angle to define the shape of the tire and strengthen it. 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. They require no inner tube since the tire forms an airtight seal with the wheel. This was an invention of the Michelin company in the year 1948. The tires did not become commonly utilized until the latter parts of the 1970s. Radial tires provide better fuel economy and last longer.