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History of the Balloon

When you think of a balloon, you probably think of the decorative kind at birthday parties and other events. But balloons can also be used for other things like medical treatment, military defense, transportation or meteorology.

In the very beginning, balloons were made out of dried animal bladders. Luckily we’ve figured out how to make balloons out of latex and PET film now. But the basic balloon hasn’t really changed much since 1931.

The first hot air balloon was launched in France in 1783 and was invented by the Montgolfier brothers. It was the first human carrying flight technology. But before they carried humans, the flight demonstration they presented to the king carried a duck, a rooster, and a sheep. They flew for 2 miles on an eight minute flight.

Michael Faraday invented the first rubber balloon in his laboratory in 1824 while experimenting with different gases while at the Royal Institution in London.

Like many inventions, it’s hard to tell who the exact inventor of the first latex toy balloon was. There were a couple of manufacturers who came after Faraday.

But Neil Tillotson was credited as the inventor of the modern latex toy balloon. It was during the Great Depression of the 1920’s and he was working at the Hood Rubber Company. When he lost his job he decided to come up with a more economical way to make latex balloons and founded his own company in 1931 to manufacture his balloons.

The next innovation in balloons was the foil balloon in the 1970’s. They are made out of aluminized PET film. Foil balloons are less porous than latex balloons, but are easy to print on. They can become hazardous to the environment if they are released into the air because they aren’t biodegradable like latex balloons.

New balloon technology is currently being tested in the areas of balloon surveillance, medical uses, and other innovations.