Whether it’s the price of gas, the people you spend time with, or the level of satisfaction you have with your job, one thing in life is certain, things change. It may not be a surprise your vehicle, the way it works, and how much it costs has changed significantly over the years. But have you ever thought about how much tires have changed?

Before air was introduced into tire designs, they were covered in wood, iron, solid rubber, and even leather. Although these weren’t the most shock-absorbent materials, they provided durability and grip. It took many years to develop the tires we use today. Let’s look at tires and how they have progressed through the years.

The modern tire was patented in 1847 by Robert Thompson but had little success. At the time, consumers preferred the durability of solid rubber. It wasn’t until years later the popularity of the bicycle would reintroduce the concept of a smoother ride.

John Boyd Dunlop was the first to manufacture the pneumatic tire in 1888. The pneumatic, or air-filled tire, was developed for Mr. Dunlop’s son, Jonnie. The cushion provided by the air allowed the 10-year-old to ride his bike without getting headaches from the bumpy roads.

The design was simple but effective for its time. By today’s standards, however, little Jonnie’s bicycle tires would fall short. Modern air-filled tires consist of synthetic rubber, steel cord, fabric and other natural rubber compounds. Today’s tire is constantly being revolutionized by technology. Changing materials used, design, durability, and functionality of the tire is an ongoing process.

One of the most significant design changes for the tire was the introduction of tire tread. These groves within the rubber’s surface can customize the way your tires perform and the way your vehicle handles. Tread and rubber composition can allow your vehicle to handle better in the snow, grip the road surface in hot temperatures or survive hundreds of miles of hauling heavy loads.

The future may hold even more innovations in tire design and functionality. Today, tires are manufactured in hundreds of factories around the world, providing you with the comfort and performance we are used to. No matter what you drive, how you drive or what your tire wish list is, there is a tire built for you.