Automobiles are a major part of everyday life in many countries. They help people get to work, take children to school, shop and go on family vacations. The automobile industry employs thousands of people and contributes to the economy of many nations.
Exactly who invented the first car is still a subject of controversy. Some say it was Karl Benz, who created the first true automobile around 1885 or 1886. Others point to the contributions of Gottlieb Daimler, Nicolaus Otto and Emile Levassor. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, automobile technology had been perfected and production had become highly industrialized. This led to the development of the assembly line, where workers perform one task while car parts pass on a conveyor belt.
The automobile made it possible for people to live more independently and get to places they wouldn’t be able to reach on foot or by public transportation. Women also took to the road in the early 1900s in an effort to promote women’s rights. They drove their cars across the country with “votes for women” banners.
The automobile has reshaped American culture and society. It is now the backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented economy and is one of the biggest users of steel and petroleum products. Its demand for other industrial products and services has helped create new industries, jobs and communities. But now the old Automobile Age is melding into a new Age of Electronics.