The History of Transportation

The History Of Transportation

Transportation has not always been as convenient or varied as it is in today’s world. On a daily basis, people take their ability to travel freely and quickly for granted. Cars, airplanes, buses, and even bicycles allow people to travel either very short distances or very long ones. In some countries, such as the United States, personal means of transportation are so plentiful that roadways and highways are often regularly congested with traffic. Even countries that do not rely as heavily on motor vehicles require basic means of transportation. Without transportation, traveling across the country would be impossible. Even with early methods of travel, such as horses and carriages, a cross-country trip would be a long and dangerous one. In addition, without methods of travel, people would have been hindered and unable to safely explore or expand across large areas of land or water. Economies would also be affected by the lack of ability to trade.

Curiosity and creativity both played a major part in solving the issues of transportation; however, the greatest motivator was need. As previous generations sought ways to travel further and more efficiently, simple creations were developed or expanded upon to create new methods of transportation. Key events throughout history have marked significant changes in the progress that humanity has made in terms of moving from one place to another. Major events that affect how people travel go back as far as ancient times.

  • 6300 BC: Dugout boats were possibly the first type of boat used by man and are the oldest type of boat found by archaeologists. A dugout boat is a canoe-like boat that is made out of a hollowed out tree trunk.
  • 44500 to 2000 BC: The domestication of horses for transportation and to carry goods took place during this time. This began in the Near East at the Eurasian Steppes.
  • 3500 BC: The earliest wheels for vehicles were invented in Mesopotamia, or in what is currently known as Iraq.
  • 1769 AD: Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, who was a French mechanic and engineer, developed a military tractor that would be the first road vehicle that was self-propelled using the power of a steam engine. The vehicle was used to haul artillery by the French Army.
  • 1783: The first hot air balloon was invented and flown. Inventors Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier were responsible for its creation and the first flight. The hot air balloon was a silk bag that had been attached to a basket.
  • 1787: The steam boat was launched on the Delaware River by John Fitch. He was later granted a U.S. patent in 1791 for the steamboat.
  • 1807: Francois Isaac de Rivaz invented the first combustion-powered vehicle. The engine was fueled by a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen.
  • 1807: The first commercially successful steamboat was built by Robert Fulton. The boat was called the Clermont and ran on the Hudson River.
  • 1814: George Stephenson designed the first steam locomotive, which first ran in that year.
  • 1816: The first modern bicycle called the “Hobbyhorse” or “Dandy Horse” was invented. It did not have pedals or brakes.
  • 1867: The first motorcycle, which was steam-powered, was invented by Sylvester Howard Roper. There were no springs and the engine was located under the seat, which caused the seat to become hot.
  • 1876: Nikolaus Otto invented the first successful four-stroke engine. This engine become known as the “Otto Cycle.”
  • 1886: The first true, or modern, automobile was created. The inventor of the automobile was Karl Friedrich Benz.
  • 1900: Count Ferdinand graf von Zeppelin flew the world’s first rigid airship over Lake Constance in Germany.
  • 1903: On December 17, The Wright Brothers are the first people in history to fly an airplane. On this day they made four flights with their plane, although the flights were relatively brief.
  • 1908: Henry Ford produced and sold the Ford Model T. It was during the production of the Model T that he created the assembly line. With the assembly line, automobile manufacturing changed the way that cars were assembled making the process faster, more efficient, and less expensive. As a result more cars were made and they were sold for less.
  • 1939: On August 27 the first jet engine aircraft in the world takes flight. It was created by the German physicist Hans von Ohain. The jet was the Heinkel He 178.
  • 1952: The de Havilland Comet made the first commercial jet airliner flight. It traveled from London to Johannesburg.
  • 1958: The U.S.S.R.’s Sputnik 1 launched into space on this date. It was the world’s first successful launch of a satellite and began what became known as the “Space Race.”
  • 1961: This year marked the first manned space flight. Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut, went down in history as being the first human in space.

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