Timeline of the Automobile

Timeline of the Automobile

The Automobile made a drastic change in the way people traveled. There is really no simple answer to the question of who invented the Automobile and when but I’m sure glad we have them. t has been a work in progress, developing over the past several hundred years. To better understand the history of the automobile, it could be helpful to look at a time line and see how all the pieces fit together. This time line describes the invention of the automobile and its development with a focus on American automobiles in the twentieth century.

1478 – Leonardo da Vinci invents the self-propelled car. This happens many years before anyone else is even thinking about automobiles. However, the car remains a sketch on paper and is never actually made. This self-propelled car is not a car like the ones we see today. It is more similar to a cart and does not have a seat. In 2004, a replica of da Vinci’s car is finally crafted. It can be seen on display at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy.

1769 – Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot builds the first self-propelled road vehicle in France. This vehicle is a tractor for the French army. It has three wheels and moves at about 2.5 miles per hour.

1789 – American Oliver Evans receives the first US patent for a steam-powered land vehicle.

1801 – In Great Britain, inventor Richard Trevithick builds a steam powered road carriage. It is considered to be the first tramway locomotive. It is designed for use on road, not railroad.

1807 – An internal combustion engine which uses a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen is invented by Francois Isaac de Rivaz in Switzerland. He also designs a car for the engine, the first automobile powered by internal combustion. However, his design turns out to be very unsuccessful.

1823 – English engineer and inventor Samuel Brown invents an internal combustion engine. It has separate combustion and working cylinders, and is used to power a vehicle.

1832 – Robert Anderson invents the first crude electric carriage in Scotland. It is powered by non-rechargeable primary power cells.

1863 – Belgian engineer Jean-Joseph-Etienne Lenoir invents the “horseless carriage.” It uses an internal combustion engine and can move at about 3 miles per hour. This is the first commercially successful internal combustion engine.

1867 – German Nikolaus August Otto improves on the internal combustion engine. His engine is the first to efficiently burn fuel directly in a piston chamber.

1870 – Julius Hock, of Vienna, builds the first internal combustion engine running on gasoline.

1877- Otto builds the four-cycle internal combustion engine, which is the prototype for modern car engines.

August 21, 1879 – American inventor George Baldwin files the first U.S. Patent for an automobile. This invention is more similar to a wagon with an internal combustion engine.

1885 – German engine designer Karl Benz builds the first true automobile powered by a gasoline engine. It has three wheels and looked similar to a carriage.

1886 – In Michigan, Henry Ford builds his first automobile.

1886 – Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach invent the first four-wheeled, four-stroke engine in Germany. It is known as the “Cannstatt-Daimler.”

1876 – American George Baldwin Selden invents a combined internal combustion engine with a carriage. It is never manufactured.

1893 – Brothers Frank and Charles Edgar Duryea invent the first successful gas-powered car in the United States.

1896 – The Duryea brothers start the first American car manufacturing company in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is called Motor Wagons.

1900- A steering wheel is designed to replace the steering tiller.

1906 – Alabama sets a state maximum speed limit of 8 miles per hour.

1913 – Ford’s Model T production rockets from 7.5 cars per hour to 146 cars per hour, thanks to the utilization of the assembly line.

1924 – The car radio is introduced.

1940 – The first four-wheel drive, all-purpose vehicle is designed for the U.S. Military. It becomes known as the Jeep.

1956 – The Interstate Highway Act creates a network of highways which connects all parts of the United States.

1962 – Wisconsin becomes the first state to create a seat belt law. It calls for the seatbelt to be a standard requirement in automobiles.

1974 – Air bags become a new car safety option.

1984 – New York state becomes the first state with a law requiring the use of seatbelts.

1995 – The car Global Positioning System, or GPS, is introduced.

1996 – Due to the rising cost of gasoline and impact of global climate change, zero-emission electric vehicles come back to auto showrooms. The first electric vehicles had been designed in the early 1800s.

1997 – The first Toyota Prius is sold in Japan.

Late 2000s – Many vehicle manufacturers begin to abandon once popular gas-guzzling SUVs for more efficient vehicles due to environmental concerns and the recession.