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History: Personal mobility

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  • 1890 (September 9) - John Dunlop is issued a patent for the first practical pneumatic tire. His tire provided the foundation for the Dunlop Tire Company and served as the genesis for the modern tire industry. Pneumatic tires became the standard for bicycles, and today are often used on manual wheelchairs. [1] [2]
  • 1940 (June 25) - William Kroll is awarded U.S. Patent #2,205,854 for a method for manufacturing titanium and titanium alloys. Titanium is often used in light-weight wheelchairs. [4] [5]
  • 1972 (August 21)- William Jones of Cleveland Machine Controls, Inc. files a patent for what may have been the first joystick control for a wheelchair. The patent was for a "motor control system for controlling both direction and speed of a DC motor. The system is particularly applicable for controlling direction and speed of a pair of DC reversible motors which independently drive spaced apart wheels on a vehicle, such as a motorized wheelchair." Joystick controls had previously been used mostly in airplanes.[6]


  1. Wheel-Tire for Cycles. U.S. Patent #435,995.
  2. John Dunlop. National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. Accessed March 7, 2008.
  3. Wheelchair Maker vs. Critics New York Times. February 12, 1981.
  4. William Kroll. National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. Accessed March 7, 2008.
  5. Method for Manufacturing Titanium and Titanium Alloys. U.S. Patent #2,205,854.
  6. Motor Control Apparatus Adapted for Use with a Motorized Vehicle U.S. Patent #3,814,199, June 4, 1974.