John Boyd Dunlop
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.
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.