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20 - What Does a Butterfly Collector Do in the Congo?

The Berlin Conference and the Colonisation of Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2022

Johan Fourie
Affiliation:
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Summary

October 1887 a veterinarian in Belfast was tinkering with his son’s bicycle. Its metal wheels made the cycle slow, so to fix this, John Dunlop took some rubber that he used in his veterinary practice; he added the inflated tube of sheet rubber to a wooden wheel and rolled both the wooden and metal wheels across his yard in a game to see which could roll furthest. The inflated wooden wheel continued on long after the metal wheel had stopped rolling. The pneumatic tyre was born.

Dunlop’s timing was impeccable. Two years earlier the Rover had first appeared on the market. In contrast to the penny-farthing, the Rover was a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven ‘safety bicycle’ with two similar-sized wheels. It is the bicycle design still most common today. The two inventions – the new bicycle and the inflatable rubber tyre – transformed the bicycle industry.

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Chapter
Information
Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
Lessons from 100,000 Years of Human History
, pp. 114 - 120
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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