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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 markets’.

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 truths.

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 one: