Who invented the automobile?

Lynne Kiesling

Lynne’s snark of the morning: If President Obama doesn’t know who invented the automobile, perhaps he should take my Western Economic History class this spring (hint: the inventor of the automobile was German). My spring class is already full and has a waiting list (which I find gratifying), but I’d make room for the President.

I’d make more substantive commentary on his proposals, but I’m too busy today actually working on smart grid things.

UPDATE: I would like to add here Nick Gillespie’s more substantive snark of the morning (he’s way better at it than I am):

Last night, President Barack Obama underscored that, despite being in the Senate for the past few years and his party being in charge of Congress since 2006, he’s just mopping up for the bungler in chief who preceded him. I yield to no ink-stained wretch in my vast and bottomless dislike of George W. Bush but let’s hold Obama’s feet to the fire here: He has consistently pledged to, you know, stop spending right after well, you know, he and Congress stop spending.


5 thoughts on “Who invented the automobile?

  1. Maybe he meant who invented the automobile (industry)…you know…mass produced cars that regular people can actually have?

  2. When I heard that line I wanted to check the facts. Thanks for the link. Facts are optional in speeches. The purpose of oratory is persuasion, not truth.

  3. When I heard that line, I remember thinking that it couldn’t be that simple, if it were correct at all. With complex mechanisms, it seems rarely so clean that you can say that one person invented it, as if it were that person’s big idea. One person may have gotten the patents, as in the case with Benz, but there were others working on the same big idea, but down in the details. In our education system we simplify such technolgical developments to a sound bite with a date. Probably too simple to be correct. Most people in the U.S. are taught that Marconi invented radio, but he doesn’t even have the patent. Tesla does. In fact, there were other people claiming priority over a lot of what Tesla holds patents on.

  4. Small point, but one could argue the first automobile was actually invented by a Frenchman.* Nicholas Cugnot’s steam-powered contraption is recognized as the first automobile by the the British Royal Automobile Club and the Automobile Club de France. Benz, a German, is credited with inventing the first internal-combustion engine automobile.

    *There are claims that go farther back than Cugnot as well.

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