The first Goodyear factory opened in Akron, Ohio, in 1898. The thirteen original employees manufactured bicycle and carriage tires, rubber horseshoe pads, and poker chips. The company grew with the advent of the automobile.
In 1901, Frank Seiberling provided Henry Ford with racing tires. In 1903, Paul Weeks Litchfield was granted a patent for the first tubeless automobile tire. By 1908, Ford was outfitting his Model T with Goodyear tires. In 1909, Goodyear manufactured its first aircraft tire.
In 1916, Litchfield found land in the Phoenix area suitable for growing long-staple cotton, needed for reinforcing rubber in tires. The 36,000 acres purchased were controlled by the Southwest Cotton Company, formed with Litchfield as president. (This included land that would develop into the towns of Goodyear and Litchfield Park.)
In 1924, Litchfield, as Goodyear Vice President, forged a joint venture with the German Luftschiffbau Zeppelin Company to form the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation. In the late 1920s to 1940, the company worked with Goodyear to build two Zeppelins in the United States and the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation was created to facilitate the relationship. The partnership continued even when Zeppelin was under Nazi control and only ended after World War II began.
By 1926, Goodyear was the largest rubber company in the world. Only four years earlier it was forced to temporarily halt production of racing tires due to heavy competition. Nevertheless, the popularity of the Goodyear tire on the racing circuit led to a popular demand for the return of the brand.
On August 5, 1927, Goodyear had its initial public offering and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
By 1930, Goodyear had pioneered what would later become known as "tundra tires" for smaller aircraft — their so-called low inflation pressure "airwheel" aviation wheel-rim/tire sets were initially available in sizes up to 46 inches in diameter.
For the next sixty years Goodyear grew to become a multinational corporation with multibillion-dollar earnings. It acquired their rival Kelly-Springfield Tire in 1935. During World War II Goodyear manufactured F4U Corsair fighter planes for the U.S. Military. Goodyear ranked 30th among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. WWII forced the dissolution of the Goodyear-Zeppelin partnership in December 1940. By 1956 they owned and operated a nuclear processing plant in Ohio.
Goodyear is also known for the Goodyear Blimp. Though Goodyear had been manufacturing airships and balloons since the early 1900s, the first Goodyear advertising blimp flew in 1925. Today, it is one of the most recognizable advertising icons in America. The company is the most successful tire supplier in Formula One history, with more starts, wins, and constructors' championships than any other tire supplier. They pulled out of the sport after the 1998 season. It is the sole tire supplier for NASCAR series.