The Invention of the Modern Automobile

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The Invention of the Modern Automobile

“The way to make automobiles, is to make one automobile just like another automobile [1].” With this statement, Henry Ford had invented the modern automobile. Many people may question this idea, as they know self propelled vehicles were in existence long before the days of Ford. In fact, these people would undoubtedly be correct; the idea of a self propelled vehicle and its actual realization had been present for at least one hundred years before Ford ever made one. However, by considering the definition of invention, the idea of the modern automobile and then briefly tracing the history of the self propelled vehicle, it will become increasingly clear how Henry Ford had invented this dominant form of land transportation.

Before any evidence can be introduced in support of the topic at hand, the definition of invention must be established. Legally, an invention is a new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, or product. Maurice Fabre, author of A History of Land Transportation (1963), offered an interesting take on the automobile and its inventor. “Who, for that matter, can say who invented the automobile? Was it Cugnot with his lumbering “fardier” of 1769? Was it Trevithick with his steam carriage of 1801, or the Bollees with their steam car of 1813? Or Benz or Daimler with their first successful internal combustion gasoline engine cars of 1886? It depends what you mean by an automobile [2].” In the year 2001, what do we consider the automobile to be? I invite the reader to take a minute to look out the window. I see a street lined with cars. Many of these cars possess similar shapes and sizes. In fact, some of them are the same make and model, only...

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... The Automobile Age. pg 13.

17 Williams, Trevor I. A History of Invention: From Stone Axes to Silicon Chips. pg


18 Flink, James J. The Automobile Age. pg 36, 38.

19 Flink, James J. The Automobile Age. pg 35.

20 Kaempffert, Waldemar. A Popular History of American Invention. pg 156.

21 Beard, Charles A. A Century of Progress. New York. Harper and Row Publishers,

Inc. 1970. pg 67.

22 Flink, James J. The Automobile Age. pgs 40-43.

23 Hughes, Thomas. American Genesis. New York. Penguin Group. 1989. pgs 188, 193,


24 Flink, James J. The Automobile Age. pg 115.

25 Flink, James J. The Automobile Age. pgs 37-39.

26 Flink, James J. The Automobile Age. pgs 43, 119-120.

27 Hughes, Thomas. American Genesis. pg 139.

28 Hughes, Thomas. American Genesis. pgs 1-11, 53, 139, 186

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