Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Okay, so I'm hair-splitting

Did I just hear the prez correctly? Something about "the country that invented the automobile" needing to be kept in the auto-making game?

Sheesh. I'm not even terribly mechanically minded, and I knew that was wrong.

For the record, the Library of Congress gives that distinction to Karl Benz of Germany, who built the first true automobile in 1885 (and importantly, patented it in 1886.)

The LC page explains that the answer is not really that simple, citing designs by Leonardo Da Vinci as precursors to the modern auto. Still, American inventors only come up fifth and sixth on its table of automotive "firsts," and only the second of those (the Duryea brothers) actually built an automobile.

The "first" automobiles, according to the LC page:

Cugnot--steam-powered vehicle--1769--France
Anderson--electric--1832-9--Scotland
Benz--gasoline--1885-6--Germany (patented)
Daimler--gasoline--1886--Germany
Selden--(gasoline powered engine combined with carriage-never mfg.) 1876 (pat 95)--US
Duryea bros.--gasoline--1893--US

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