AT A GLANCE:
Police Officer William L. Potts of Detroit, Michigan, decided to do something about the problem caused by the ever increasing number of automobiles on the streets. What he had in mind was figuring out a way to adapt railroad signals for street use. Potts used red, amber, and green railroad lights and about thirty-seven dollars worth of wire and electrical controls to make the world’s first 4-way three color traffic light. It was installed in 1920 on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. Within a year, Detroit had installed a total of fifteen of the new automatic lights.
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noun / trsffic signal / stoplight
A road signal for directing vehicular traffic by means of colored lights, typically red for stop, green for go, and yellow for proceed with caution.
As a government emplyee Potts could not patent his invention.
William L. Potts
First practical. Modern prototype.
1918 U.S.Patent # 1,251,666 issued January 1, to J.B. Hoge of Cleveland, OH 1919 U.S.Patent # 1,307,544 issued June 24, to Oscar A. Erdmann of Detroit, MI 1920 William Potts invents and installs a three color, four direction taffic light in Detroit, MI 1923 U.S.Patent # 1,475,024 issued November 20, 1923 to Garrett Morgan for traffic signal ARYs: traffic light, traffic signal, stop light, William Potts, Garrett Morgan, J Hoge, Oscar Erdmann, history, invention, stroy, facts, biography, inventor.
Even during the horse and buggy days, traffic in big cities was often heavy. Police officers had to be stationed full time directing traffic at busy intersections.
The world’s first traffic light came into being before the automobile was in use, and traffic consisted only of pedestrians, buggies, and wagons. Installed at an intersection in...
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