Balloons are an inflatable sac that can be filled with air (or other gas) and tied at the neck to seal them. The most common type of balloons, sometimes called toy or party balloons, are used for party decorations, advertising or as an inexpensive toy for children. They come in a variety of shapes, colors and sometimes have patterns or other designs printed onto them. Modern balloons are commonly made from rubber, plastic or nylon. However, before the invention of the modern balloon they were made from the intestines of animals or pig bladders! Let’s find out who invented the modern party balloon.
Who invented the modern rubber balloon?
The modern rubber balloon was invented by English scientist Michael Faraday in 1824. Although they are now most commonly associated with a party, Faraday developed the rubber balloon to use in his experiments with hydrogen and other gases at the Royal Institute in London. It wasn’t long before the commercial potential of this invention was envisaged and balloons were made for other purposes.
Neil Tillotson is credited as the first to invent latex balloons that are similar to what we recognize today. He worked as a researcher for a rubber company in the 1920’s, but lost his job in the Great Depression. After this time he discovered a way to make affordable latex balloons. In 1931 he founded the Tillotson Rubber Company to make them. His first balloon was shaped like the head of a cat with hand painted designs, but he soon made different designs. In 1931, under tough economic condition, he sold $85,000 of his products (equivalent to more than $1 million today)!
Did you know?
Michael Faraday made a number of important scientific discoveries and investigations. He discovered the chemical compound benzene and made important contributions to the fields of electrochemistry and electromagnetism. Interestingly, he had little formal education.