Any chronology must be highly subjective and selective. This
can be no more true that in the case of ‘rubber’,
a substance which we now know to have been in use for over 3,500
years. Those who have used it have been primitive natives, lost
civilizations and those developing the most sophisticated instruments
and equipment today. Just two areas of application illustrate
this breadth of applicability. The same material is used to make
delicate medical devices such as surgeons gloves and condoms whilst
it is the major constituent of supersonic aircraft tyres as well
as those to which motorists trust themselves whenever setting
out in rain, hail or snow.]
The situation is further complicated by the attempts of scientists
to replicate and improve on the natural material over the last
century. Today synthetic elastomers (rubbers) account for around
55% of the total elastomers market and there are many different
ones with different properties, some ‘general purpose’
but others synthesised in relatively small quantities for ‘niche
In this time chart I have attempted to cover both those events
which changed to course of history and those which provided just
one small step forward (or occasionally backward) for mankind.
The sole criterion for inclusion was that the event had to be
of interest to me!
Throughout the chart I have included data on the production of
wild and plantation natural rubber and, eventually, on the synthetics.
No source documents appear to give the same figures in any area
so please consider them as reasonably indicative rather than absolute
For ease of handling, the time line is divided into five sections.
You can follow them through or use a link to jump to a particular