There are references which indicate that balloons were invented by the Aztecs around 1300, but historically balloons were constructed of animal bladders and intestines. Long slender balloons were made from animal intestines; different animals would have differing lengths and diameters. For example, a cat's intestine would be small, whereas a whale's would be far larger. Pig's bladders were often filled with air or water and used as a ball for children's games. In science, A pig's bladder was inflated by Galileo in an experiment to measure the weight of air and the first rubber balloons were made by Professor Michael Faraday in 1824 for use in his experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London.
Balloons have been extensively modernised and are now free of all animal innards and made of latex which is manufactured from natural rubber; the white sap or latex is extracted from the Haevae Brasilienis tree and collected as liquid. Latex is collected without harming the tree, using environmentally safe, traditional processes. The tropical rain forest trees are highly valuable and a well-protected natural resource.
Balloons can now be made of foil which is a technology straight out of the NASA Space Mission which is the process of "metallisation" of plastic sheeting that has given us foil balloons. The balloon industry uses the name as "foil" balloons, because they are made of nylon sheet, coated on one side with polyethylene and metallised on the other. Foil balloons are highly popular as the can be printed with bright complex images and last for much longer than the latex balloon.
Latex balloons can be blown up with natural air either by using ones lungs or a pump, they can also be filled with helium which enables them to 'float' in the air. When balloons are filled with helium they have to have a counterweight tied onto the opposite end of the balloon ribbon to keep in rooted to the ground. The first 'floating' balloons were filled with hydrogen which had one-tenth more lifting power, however, helium is far safer.
Latex balloons are a popular, lost cost solution to decorate at corporate events and are often printed with the company logo and in the company colours. These are also used as an advertising and marketing strategy to promote the brand and advertise their website or a produce they offer.
In the 1920's The Toy Balloon company in New York used luminous balloons in balloon showers, balloon-decked parade floats, in fashionable window displays and also released 50,000 helium-filled balloons at one time. Each printed with an advertiser's name or logo and bore a tag which offered a prize to the finder.