Charles Goodyear received two patents for methods of making rubber better.
Caoutchouc was the name for rubber used by the Indians of Central and South America.
History of Caoutchouc
A natural substance that had been used for centuries before being rediscovered by Columbus and introduced to western culture. Caoutchouc came from the Indian word “cahuchu,” which meant “weeping wood.” Natural rubber was harvested from the sap that oozed from the bark of a tree. The name “rubber” comes from the use of the natural substance as a pencil eraser that could “rub out” pencil marks and is the reason that it was then re-named “rubber.”
Besides pencil erasers, rubber was used for many other products, however, the products were not standing up to extreme temperatures, becoming brittle in winter. During the 1830’s, many inventors tried to develop a rubber product that could last year-round. Charles Goodyear was one of those inventors, whose experiments put Goodyear into debt and involved in several patent lawsuits.
In 1837, Charles Goodyear received his first patent (US patent #240) for a process that made rubber an easier product to work with. However, this was not the patent Charles Goodyear is best known for.
In 1843, Charles Goodyear discovered that if you removed the sulphur from rubber then heated it, it would retain its elasticity. This process called vulcanization made rubber waterproof and winter-proof and opened the door for a enormous market for rubber goods.
On June 24, 1844, Charles Goodyear was granted patent #3,633 for vulcanized rubber.
source : http://inventors.about.com