The first practical pneumatic tire was developed (not invented) by Scottish veterinarian John Boyd Dunlop in 1888, as a means for his son to ride his tricycle on rough terrain. Harvey do Cros, an Irish businessman and avid bicyclist, convinced Dunlop to manufacture bicycle tires for the Irish Cyclists' Association. He then convinced Dunlop to go into business with him.

Dunlop Rubber went on to become one of the largest companies in the UK, and from the end of World War II to 1970, was one of the major tire suppliers for auto racing. The company suffered badly in failing to market steel-belted radials when other tire companies were introducing them, and other poor decisions caused the company to drop into a downward spiral. Eventually Dunlop was acquired by the BTR conglomerate in the mid-1980s. Nowadays the Dunlop name is partially owned by several different concerns worldwide.

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