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The following very early events were added by Allpar.
1769: Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot invents the car, powered by steam; a ratchet converts the piston’s up-and-down strokes into rotary motion. His car, like Daimler’s much later model, is three-wheeled, and was steered via tiller (and ran on roads, not rails). One of his later cars, from 1771, remains at a Parisian museum.
1784: William Murdoch builds and patents a steam car, first in Britain.
1789: Oliver Evans gets the first patent for an automobile in the United States.
1801: Richard Trevithick makes the first car designed to carry passengers, using connecting rods to convert the boiler’s piston motion to rotary wheel movement. He reportedly hit 9 mph on flat roads. Trevithick patents a revised version of this car in 1802; the new one had many innovations, and again ran up to 9 mph with multiple passengers. However, after a road accident (and a fire destroying the first car), Trevithick leaves the car business.
1824: Walter Hancock begins making steam road vehicles; in 1827 he patented a safety boiler that split rather than exploding on failure. He started the first powered bus service in 1831, and the first scheduled bus service in 1833. He cracked the 20 mph barrier in 1836. His later bus had leaf springs and a chain drive.
1861: Britain puts the reigns on road cars with speed limits of 5 mph in urban areas, 10 mph in rural areas; in 1865 they would cut speeds further and demand that vehicles be preceded by men with red flags. In the same year, France endorses the use of road cars.
1861: Alphonse Beau de Rochas sets out the principle of the four stroke engine.
1873: Amédée Bollée launches a series of steam cars to serve as cabs/buses; this is defined by some as the “first real automobile.”
1876: Nikolaus Otto invents the “Otto Cycle” engine, building on de Rochas’ work, with four strokes: intake, compression, (spark) power, and exhaust.
1879: The infamous Selden Patent is filed; for many years he filed amendments to the original patent on the automobile engine and use of such an engine in a four wheeled car, and it was finally granted in 1895. Armed with this patent, the successor to Maxwell-Briscoe would gain royalties from competitors.
1886: Karl Benz gets his own patent on the car, in Germany. Gottlieb Daimler puts his high-speed internal combustion engine into a stagecoach, hence allowing Mercedes-Benz to claim for over a century later that they had invented the car. He did create the first four-wheeled car to reach 10 mph.
1892: Gottlieb Daimler sells his first car.
1893: Rudolph Diesel invents the engine that bears his name, similar to the Otto engine but replacing spark with compression.
1892: Walter P. Chrysler begins his apprenticeship as a mechanic in a railroad roundhouse in Kansas, making his own tools.
1894: Henry G. Morris and Pedro G. Salom construct and test a battery-operated car in Philadelphia, PA; the following year, they build four “Electrobats.”
1895: Pope Manufacturing Co., Hartford, CT, makers of the Columbia bicycle, build an electric car designed by Percy Maxim.
1896: Morris and Salom form the Electric Carriage & Wagon Co., concentrating on electric cabs. Meanwhile, A.L. Riker forms the Riker Electric Motor Co. in Brooklyn, NY.
1897: Isaac L. Rice, president of Electric Storage Battery Co, and the Electric Boat Co., purchases the Electric Carriage & Wagon Co, which becomes part of the Electric Vehicle Co., Elizabethport, NJ.
1897: Pope Manufacturing begins to make the Columbia Electric, selling them in the United Kingdom as City & Suburban Cars and in France as L'Electromotion.
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