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This Week in Tech History: Henry Ford’s First Automobile

Thomas Edison flops, Henry Ford completes his first car, and Apple releases their first consumer product… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

This week in 1869 – At the age of 22, Thomas Edison received a patent for his electric voting machine. At that time, lawmakers voted by simply yelling out “yay” or “nay” and a scribe would tally the votes by hand. Edison hoped to speed up the process with his machine that recorded the ballots of voters with the help of a simple switch and an electric current. This was one of the first patents for Edison who ended up with a total of 2,332 during his lifetime. This was also known as one of his biggest flops, with one lawmaker quoted as saying “If there’s one invention on earth we don’t want down here, that is it.” Thomas Edison is credited with my favorite quote of all time, saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

1896 – Henry Ford completed the Ford Quadricycle, his first gasoline-powered automobile, and gives it a successful test run. This was Ford’s first car and was a simple frame with a gas-powered engine and four bicycle wheels mounted to it. The Quadricycle was steered by a tiller handle, had a two-speed transmission, put out a whopping four horsepower and had a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The original Quadricycle still survives today and is housed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

1977 – The Apple II, designed by Steve Wozniak went on sale. It was one of the first successful mass-produced personal computers. It was introduced by the two Steves – Jobs and Wozniak – at the West Coast Computer Faire, and was the first consumer product sold by Apple Computer. The machine sold for about $1,300 which would be the equivalent of about $5,000 today.

Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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