In the 1830s, natural rubber was a popular substance for waterproof shoes and boots, but its inability to withstand freezing temperatures and extreme heat soon left consumers and manufacturers frustrated. That led some to say rubber had no future, but Charles Goodyear disagreed. After years of trial and error trying to make rubber more durable, the scientist stumbled upon his greatest discovery by complete accident. In 1839, when showcasing his latest experiment, Goodyear
accidentally dropped his rubber concoction on a hot stove. What he discovered was a charred leather-like substance with an elastic rim. Rubber was now weatherproof.
Goodyear would never reap the benefits of his discovery and died $200,000 in debt. His surname and legacy live on, however, in the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, which was named after him nearly 40 years after his death.