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The 10 Biggest Milestones in Automotive Electronics History

Electronics have made vehicles better, safer, and more fuel-efficient.

By 2030, as autonomous cars take their place in society, most experts expect electronics to account for 50% of a vehicle’s value.

But automotive electronics didn’t start with the drive for autonomy—not by a long shot. Electronics started its march to automotive prominence back in 1955 with the introduction of the first transistorized car radio. And it has continued to gain momentum ever since. The value of the electronics in a vehicle has jumped by a factor of ten over that time, rising from 3% of a car’s cost in the 1960s to about 30% today, according to Statista.com.

Here, we’ve collected photos of the technologies that laid the foundation of engineering knowledge that will one day culminate in the birth of the autonomous car. From early radios to more recent safety electronic advancements, here are a few of the best.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 34 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

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