Here's a biographical profile of Charles Goodyear, the man who gave the world one of its most useful products: vulcanized rubber. Natural rubber, the milky sap of rubber trees, is not a very practical commodity. It melts in hot weather or cracks and freezes in cold weather. In 1839, Charles Goodyear came across a process that made rubber so useful it changed the world we live in. A century later there were 122 rubber factories in Ohio, including Firestone Tire & Rubber, U. S. Rubber, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Akron was the rubber capital of the nation, probably the world.
But Goodyear's discovery did not bring him wealth or station; he spent many years and much of his fortune protecting his patents in endless court battles. Goodyear's story is the quintessential Greek tragedy.