Traffic Signal

Topics: Patent, Invention, Traffic Pages: 2 (452 words) Published: June 25, 2013
The first American-made automobiles were introduced to consumers just before the turn of the 20th century, and pedestrians, bicycles, animal-drawn wagons and motor vehicles all had to share the same roads. Between 1913 and 1921, a number of versions of traffic signaling devices, both mechanical and automated, were patented by various inventors. Of these, only a few saw production or implementation on public roads. Morgan's device first patented in 1923, was a hand-cranked, manually operated mechanical semaphore signal.[7] His device had two key safety features: having an intermediate "all stop" signal state to give moving traffic time to stop before signaling cross traffic to proceed, and having a "half mast" position to indicate general caution at times when the device operator was not present.[7]

There is no evidence to support the claim that Morgan's traffic signal was ever put into service.[9][not in citation given] Despite claims on various websites[10][11][12][13][14] as well as in print[15][16] that Morgan's invention was used "throughout North America", the absence of his signal in 1920s photographs[citation needed] and news articles[citation needed] suggests[citation needed] that it was not installed in large numbers, if at all.[citation needed] Notably, it did not merit[citation needed] a single mention in the book-length historical study by Gordon M. Sessions,[17] which covers a wide variety of devices in tracing the development of traffic-control devices throughout history.

Many of these sources also claim that the patent rights for Morgan's designs were sold at about that time to General Electric (GE) for $40,000. However, no record of this transaction appears[citation needed] either in the U.S. patent assignment records at the National Archives, the GE historical business records at the Schenectady Museum in New York, or in Morgan's own legal and business papers at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland. Advertisements and photos...
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