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In the 1700's, street lighting
introduced to the US by inventor
Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.
The colonial era streetlights were lit
by candles placed inside a glass
vessel, which kept the candle from
being blown out by wind.
Franklin's design was four sided, with
four separate panes of glass, so that
if one pane of glass was broken, the
lamp did not need to be entirely replaced,
and might not even blow out.
The street lights in Franklin's day were
not very efficient and the glass globes tended
to become dark with soot from the oil burned
inside, requiring almost daily cleaning.
In 1803, the U. S. introduced gas
After Thomas Edison pioneered electric
in Newport, Rhode Island.
Throughout the 1800's, the use of
gas lighting increased.
Some locations in the U.S. still use
gas lights today.
use, light bulbs were developed
for the street lights as well.
The first city to use electric street
lights was Wabash, Indiana.
The City Council of Wabash agreed to
testing the lights and in 1880,
Wabash became the first electrical
lighted city in the world as a flood
of light engulfed the town from 4
Brush Lights mounted atop
One of the original Brush Lights is on
display at the Wabash County
By the beginning of the 1900's,
the number of fire based streetlights
was dwindling as developers were
searching for safer and more effective
ways to illuminate their streets.
In the 1930's,
fluorescent lamp first
These lamps are a form of discharge
lamp where a small current causes a gas
in the tube to glow.
The typical glow is strong in ultraviolet
but weak in visible light.
The glass envelope is coated in a
mixture of phosphors that are excited
by the ultraviolet light and emit
Fluorescent lamps are much more
efficient than incandescent lamps,
and for a short time became popular
in street lighting both because of the
efficiency and the novelty value.
In 1948, the first
mercury vapor streetlight
It was deemed a major improvement over
the incandescent light bulb, and shone
much brighter than incandescent or
In the 1960's, mercury
coated with a special material made
of phosphors inside the bulb to
help correct the lack of orange/red
light from mercury vapor lamps
(increasing the color rendering index.
The UV light excites the
producing a more "white" light.
Today, street lighting commonly uses
"high intensity discharge" lamps.
"Low pressure sodium" lamps became
commonplace after World War II
for their low power consumption
and long life.
Late in the 1980's, high
pressure sodium lamps
were preferred, taking further the same virtues.
Such lamps provide the greatest amount
of photopic illumination for
consumption of electricity.
Studies comparing metal halide and
high-pressure sodium lamps have
shown that at equal photopic
light levels, a street scene illuminated
at night by a metal halide lighting
was reliably seen as brighter and safer than
the same scene illuminated by a high
pressure sodium system.
The earliest headlights, fueled by acetylene
or oil, operated from the late 1880s.
Acetylene lamps were popular because
the flame is resistant to wind and rain.
The first electric headlamps were introduced
in 1898 on the Columbia
Car from the Electric Vehicle Company
of Hartford, Connecticut, and
In 1912, Cadillac integrated their
Delco electrical ignition and lighting system,
forming the modern vehicle electrical
The Guide Lamp Company introduced
dipping (low-beam) headlamps in 1915,
but the 1917 Cadillac system allowed
the light to be dipped using a lever
inside the car rather than requiring the
driver to stop and get out.
The 1924 Bilux bulb was the first
modern unit, having the light for
both low (dipped) and high (main) beams
of a headlamp emitting from a
In 1927 the foot-operated dimmer switch
or dip switch was introduced
and became standard for much
of the century.
The standardized 7-inch round sealed-beam
headlight, one per side, was required
for all vehicles sold in the U.S. from 1940,
virtually freezing usable lighting technology
in place until the 1970s for Americans.
In 1957 the law changed to allow
smaller 5.75-inch round sealed beams,
2 per side of the vehicle, and in 1974
rectangular sealed beams were permitted
When Federal Motor Vehicle
Standard 108 was amended in 1974 to
permit rectangular sealed-beam
headlamps, these were placed in
horizontally arrayed or vertically
By 1979, the majority of new cars in the
US market were equipped with
In about 1899,the first rear
(one kerosene lamp) was
provide license plate illumination.
It was common to equip the license
plate lamp with a red opening
towards the rear, thereby creating
the first tail lamps.
Not until about 1920 did most cars
have electric lamps in both the front
During the 1920s, the first national
and international regulations and
standards on rear lighting appeared.
In 1926, the predecessor
of the UN,
the League of Nations, agreed on the
first conventions related to automobile
It was then agreed that during the night
every motor vehicle must have a red
in the rear, and that the rear registration
plate must be illuminated.
In the 1930's, two tail lamps became
common in the U.S.
Functionally Red light has less
effect on human low light vision than
any other visible color.
Red tailand brake lights are
identifiable to the ROD cells in
your eyes, while higher wavelength
colors like green or blue are harder
In 1905, the first brake lamps were
By 1928, requirements for brake
lamps were introduced in 11 states
in the U.S.
Model T used carbide lamps
for headlamps and oil lamps for
It did not have all electric lighting as a standard
feature until several years
Dynamos for automobile headlamps were
first fitted around 1908 and became
commonplace in 1920s cars.
Before traffic lights, traffic police
controlled the flow of traffic in
In 1868, the world's first traffic
light was short lived.
It was a manually operated gas-lit
signal installed in London, England.
It exploded less than a month after it
was implemented, injuring its operator.
Traffic control started to seem
necessary in the late 1890s and
Earnest Sirrine from Chicago patented
the first automated traffic control system
It used the words STOP
although neither word lit up.
The words STOP and GO were in
on a green background and the lights
had red and green lenses illuminated
by kerosene lamps for night travelers
and the arms were 8 feet above ground.
It was controlled by a traffic officer
who would blow a whistle before
changing the commands on this signal
to help alert travelers of the change.
In 1920, police officer
of Detroit invented the three
colored traffic light.
He was concerned about how
police officers at 4 different
lights signals could not change their
lights all at the same time.
The answer was a third light
that was colored amber, which
was the same color used on the
railroad, Potts also placed a timer with
the light to help coordinate a
4 - way set of lights in the city.
In 1923, after
witnessing an accident
between an automobile and a horse
drawn carriage, inventor Garrett Morgan
patented a three position traffic signal.
In the 1950's, control
of traffic lights
A pressure plate was placed at
intersections so once a car was
on the plate computers would know
that a car was waiting at the red light.
Some of this detection included
knowing the number of waiting
cars against the red light and the
length of time waited by the first
vehicle at the red.
As computers evolved, traffic
control also improved and
In 1967, the city of Toronto, Canada,
was the first to use more advanced
computers that were better
at vehicle detection.
Thanks to the new and better
computers traffic flow moved
even quicker than with the use
of the tower.
The computers maintained control
over 159 signals in the cities
through telephone lines.
People praised the computers
for their detection abilities.
Thanks to detection computers could
change the length of the green
based on the volume of waiting cars.
The rise of computers is the model of
traffic control which is now
used in the 21st century.
In 1903, American inventor Mary
is popularly credited with devising
the first operational windshield wiper.
In Anderson's patent, she called her
invention a 'window cleaning device'.
Her invention cleaned snow and
rain from the windshield, using
a handle from inside a vehicle.
Anderson had a model of her design
manufactured, then filed a patent
in June, 1903 that was issued
to her by the US Patent Office in
In 1915, the
Mary Anderson ‘windshield wiper’
became standard issue on all cars.
In 1919, inventor
William M. Folberth
and his brother, Fred, applied for
a patent for an 'Automatic Windscreen
Wiper Apparatus', which was granted
It was the first "automatic" mechanism
to be developed by an American.
The new vacuum powered system
quickly became standard equipment
on cars, and the vacuum principle
was in use until about 1960.
In the late 1950s, a feature common
on modern vehicles first appeared,
operating the wipers automatically
for two or three passes when the
windshield washer button was
pressed, making it unnecessary to
manually turn the wipers on as well.
Today, an electronic timer is used,
but originally a small vacuum cylinder
mechanically linked to a switch provided
the delay as the vacuum leaked off.
In 1963, the
intermittent wiper was
invented by Robert Kearns in
Kearns's design was intended to
mimic the function of the
human eye, which blinks only
once every few seconds.
In 1963, Kearns built his first
intermittent wiper system
using electronic components.
In the Kearns design, the interval between
wipes was determined by the
rate of current flow into a capacitor.
When the charge in the capacitor
reached a certain voltage, the capacitor
was discharged, activating the wiper
motor for one cycle.
Kearns showed his wiper to the
Ford Motor Company, and proposed
manufacturing the design.
Ford executives rejected
but later offered a similar design as
an option on the company's
Mercury line, beginning with
the 1969 models.
Kearns sued Ford in a multi-year patent
dispute that Kearns eventually won
Some cars from the 1960s and 1970s,
had hydraulically driven wipers,
most notably the 1961 - 1969
Did you know?
In 1964, Gail Brown,
teacher in Chicago, made history
when she became the first
Mustang owner in America.
She bought her Mustang, 2 days
before the car was set to
go on sale.
A mix up at the dealer resulted in
her making the very first retail purchase
of a Mustang.
Even though Ford would later
alter the Mustang as a muscle car,
Ford’s release of the Mustang began
with a large marketing effort
aimed at women.
And part of the advertising campaign,
the company put ads in the
'Women’s' section in over 2,500 newspapers.
The popularity of the Mustang for women
remained strong from the 1960's through
Has anyone ever told you that your
- In 1917, the first Highway
this highway numbering system was
System was created in Wisconsin,
later adopted nationwide.
In 1886, the first
Commercial Streetcar in
the U.S. was
operated in Appleton, Wis.
In 1869, the first typewriter was
invented by Milwaukee newspaperman
Christopher Latham Sholes.
The rights for his
sold to Remington Company.
In 1905, Wisconsin first required
residents to register their
and display license plates.
Cadillac was like a "Tank"?
In 1941, M-5 military tanks were built at
the Cadillac Factory during WW2.
Each tank had 2 Cadillac V-8 engines
linked to 2 Hydra-Matic transmissions
(one for each tank track)
Cadillac built tanks and aircraft engines
(with GM's Allison Division)
from 1941 to 1945.
In the 1940's, the FCC assigned
television's Channel 1 to mobile services
(2-way radios in taxicabs, for instance)
but did not re-number the other
That is why your TV set has
channels 2 and up, but no