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Stories of the Century -- Part II

Stories of the Century -- Part II

To celebrate the end of the century, we listed in the February 1, 1999 issue of Design News the major breakthroughs of the last one hundred years in aerospace engineering. Next up: the engineering accomplishments in that other major technology driver, the automotive industry. Among the major automotive-engineering milestones:

1901--Olds' Curved Dash Runabout, the first car built on a progressive assembly line. 1908--The Model T offers left-hand-side steering.

  • 1911--Charles Kettering develops the electric self starter.

  • 1915--The Dodge brothers launch a new car with an all-steel body.

  • 1928--Cadillac introduces 165-mph V-16 engine.

  • 1938--Bosch Corp. applies for first ABS patent.

  • 1940--Olds has first automatic transmission.

  • 1952--Olds, Cadillac, and Buick offer power steering.

  • 1964--Olds Toronado is first U.S. car with front-wheel drive since 1937.

  • 1967--VW debuts electronic fuel injection.

  • 1978--GM uses first automotive microprocessor in a trip-mileage computer.

  • 1986--Corvette is first U.S. car with anti-lock brake system.

  • 1996--GM introduces the EV1.

These are some of the technical breakthroughs in the automotive world. Naturally, there were plenty of other developments in that vibrant industry which has so thoroughly defined our modern society. Some are personal. For example, who could forget their first car? Mine was a 1952 Dodge with fluid drive (no, I wasn't 16 in 1952, I just bought an old car!). Fluid-drive technology was a precursor to fully automatic transmissions: If you didn't want to shift--or weren't good with a clutch--it would change gears on its own without stalling or bucking. Great for impressing other teenagers with my "advanced" driving skills. The technology has had a rebirth of sorts in Chrysler's AutoStick(R) Transmission Control System, which, though certainly different from fluid drive, lets the driver override the transmission's computerized logic and change from automatic to manual.

What will be the next automotive breakthrough?

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