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History of Self–Starters for Motor–Cars

Nature volume 134, page 210 (11 August 1934) | Download Citation



THE Smithsonian Institution has received from the V. G. Apple Laboratories, Inc., of Dayton, Ohio, a valuable collection of early automotive electrical equipment. The founder of the firm, the late Vincent G. Apple, was one of the pioneers who improved motor-car ignition and lighting systems, and one of the first to produce a successful electric starter. This starter, which was very cumbersome, was listed in 1912 at 350 dollars. To-day, when practically every car has a self-starter, the advertising leaflets are amusing. “Every successful device for the public amusement passes through a period of such enormous popularity that the public overlooks its many imperfected details in the desire to be among the first to possess it.” It is pointed out that the necessity of cranking the engine of a motor-car is a most exasperating drawback. Compressed air, gas, acetylene gas and spring starters have all been tried and, except when everything is favourable, they have been found untrustworthy. A starter is a convenience when a car is leaving the garage; it is a necessity when it stops at a busy street corner, but what about starting the car when it stops on a level crossing—The progress of perfecting these devices during the last few years has been so rapid that there is a danger of the beginning and intermediate steps being forgotten. The Smithsonian, therefore, is gathering a collection, as complete as possible, of lighting, starting and ignition equipment.

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