While hopping in our cars to get from point A to point B seems like second nature, this wasn’t always the case. From the invention of brakes to automatic parallel parking, the evolution of automobiles has enabled us to hit the road and never look back.
1784: William Murdoch builds a working model of a steam carriage.
1815: Josef Bozek, a professor at Prague Polytechnic, builds an oil-fired steam car.
1873: Frenchman Amédée Bollée produces a self-propelled steam road vehicle to transport groups of passengers.
1888: Regarded as the first real electric car of the world, the German Flocken Elktrowagon enters the market.
1907: The high-wheel motor buggy is in its heyday, with over seventy-five makers.
1911: Charles Fettering introduces the electric starter. Up until this time, engines were started by hand cranking. This new starter was put to use in a Cadillac the next year.
1922: Made in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Duesenberg is the first American car with four-wheel hydraulic brakes, which don’t rely only on the pressure of the driver’s foot.
1926: Francis Wright Davis introduces the first power steering system.
1935: Using a thermal interrupter switch, a Delaware company creates flashing turn signals.
1939: The Nash Motor Company installs the first air-conditioning system in cars.
1959: Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invents a three-point seatbelt, which covers the driver’s torso and lap.
1970: Originally installed only on the driver’s side, air bags become standard in more cars and begin to appear on the front passenger side as well.
1985: The Lincoln becomes the first American car to offer an antilock braking system (ABS).
1992: High-intensity discharge headlamps make their way into European production sedans. This new design proves to be far brighter than traditional halogen lamps.
2002: Infiniti launches the first backup camera, available in their new Q45.
2016: The Tesla Model X features semi-autonomous driving and parking capabilities.