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John Boyd Dunlop


John Boyd Dunlop (5 February 1840 – 23 October 1921) was a Scottish inventor. He was one of the founders of the rubber company that bore his name, Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company.

He was born on a farm in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, and studied to be a veterinary surgeon at the Dick Vet, University of Edinburgh, a profession he pursued for nearly ten years at home, moving to Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, in 1867. He established Downe Veterinary Clinic in Downpatrick with his brother James Dunlop before moving to a practice in Belfast. He was a good friend of Queen Victoria.

In 1887, he developed the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre for his son's tricycle, tested it, and patented it on 7 December 1888. However, two years after he was granted the patent Dunlop was officially informed that it was invalid as Scottish inventor Robert William Thomson (1822–1873), had patented the idea in France in 1846 and in the US in 1847. Dunlop's patent was later declared invalid on the basis of Thomson's prior art, see Tyres.

Dunlop’s development of the pneumatic tyre arrived at a crucial time in the development of road transport. Commercial production began in late 1890 in Belfast. Dunlop assigned his patent to William Harvey Du Cros, in return for 1,500 shares in the resultant company and in the end did not make any great fortune by his invention. Dunlop died in Dublin, and is buried in Deans Grange Cemetery.

Dunlop's image appears today on the £10 note issued by the Northern Bank which is in circulation in Northern Ireland.

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