|Date(s):||January 1896 to 1896|
|Tag(s):||Automotive Industry, automobile|
|Course:||“Historical Perspectives on Technology,” Widener University|
In January of 1896, the Horseless Age, a magazine about motor vehicles, published an article entitled “ A Word to the Word Coiners. Evolution of the Motor Idea.” The article focused on what to call the new motor vehicles that were beginning to appear on the streets of cities in Europe and the United States. The late 19th century was a time of great excitement and inventiveness in the field of the automobile technology. At the time, no one in Europe and the United States was sure what to call these new inventions with four wheels and an engine that enabled people to get from point A to point B much faster. While the word “automobile” would ultimately become a household term, this was not the common name at the time the article was written.
The January 1896 article described the various names given to automobiles, such as “auto motor” and “petrocar” in England. “Auto cycle” was also put down as a name because of the word “auto.” However, this would imply that the motor would be automatic and wouldn’t require any human control, even though the essence of the automobile is having a human control what the automobile does. Petrocar implied that the vehicle was made of stone or for hauling stone. The main reason the name was even developed was because it was also translated to mean petroleum, which the car would run on. But not all of the motor vehicles were petroleum powered. One word for automobiles in America was “motocycle.” As the author of the article tried to find the root of this name, he figured out that it wouldn’t work because moto-cycle was a specific and not generic term, the word “cycle” was normally expressed in terms of a bicycle and this was just a euphemism for motor cycle.
The only common parallel word was “horseless carriage,” and this name was used commonly until people began to see the automobile as more than just a carriage. In 1905, when Michigan solidified its claim as a host to the emerging automobile industry, the name began to finally settle into either “motor vehicle” or “automobile.” People love the idea to be able to travel on different schedules, or to travel whenever they wanted to go anywhere in distance. The point that this information is getting at is once the popularity of the automobile began to rise, that is when they were able to produce the name of the automobile because they needed a centralized name that would catch on as the sales and popularity grew. The name became household and by 1912 the Cadillac was the first vehicle to have an effective self-starting engine. The self-starting engine was much easier to help with the depiction of the automobile name.
The name began to be a household name and the technology of automobiles would soon give birth to more manufacturers such a Ford. The name and understanding of what the main intent of the vehicle helped Ford build the Rouge manufacturing empire. Rouge had 800 car bodies coming out of the shop every day as popularity of the Model-T vehicle was produced. The Model-T was a vehicle produced by Ford.
It was not clear what the word used to describe automobiles would be at the beginning because no one really knew the main focus or direction the vehicle was going in. But once a motor was developed and there was a self –starting engine, the automobile name was birthed. Once the main idea and name of the automobile was put into play this would soon play a big part in the automobile being a household name and manufacturers like Cadillac and Ford began their dominance and their own twists they would put on these vehicles. The name/ direction of the vehicle produced the lucrative profits that were generated.