Charles Goodyear, in the 19th Century, found that adding sulphur to latex - the goopy sap of the rubber tree - created a much firmer, more durable material, which he used to produce the first tyres and inner tubes. 1839: American inventor Charles Goodyear (1800 - 1860) demonstrating his new dry heat rubber Vulcanization process Charles Goodyear demonstrating the Vulcanisation process
Early tennis balls were often very hard, even wooden, with leather balls coming later. It wasn’t until the 1850s that Charles Goodyear, of Goodyear tire fame, invented vulcanised rubber and allowed long lasting balls to be manufactured from natural rubber. Previously, natural rubber would only last a matter of days in an outside environment such as a tennis court before perishing.