Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/416

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IN this closing year of a century which is marked by unparalleled advances in science and its applications to the industrial arts, we are very much inclined to take it for granted that none of the inventions that are regarded by us as indicative of the highest order of progressive tendency, could by any possibility have been thought of by our forefathers; and as the automobile is looked upon as an ultra progressive idea, no one who has not investigated the subject would believe for a moment that its conception could antedate the present generation, much less the present century. The records, however.

PSM V57 D416 Cugnot's steam gun carriage of 1763.png
Fig. 1. Cugnot's Steam Gun Carriage, Made in 1763.

show that the subject engrossed the attention of inventive minds many hundreds of years ago. In fact, as far back as the beginning of the thirteenth century a Franciscan monk named Roger Bacon prophesied that the day would come when boats and carriages would be propelled by machinery.

The first authentic record of a self-propelled carriage dates back to the middle of the sixteenth century. The inventor was Johann Haustach, of Nuremburg. The device is described as a chariot propelled by the force of springs, and it is said that it attained a speed of two thousand paces per hour, about one mile and a quarter. Springs have been tried by many inventors since that time, but always without success from the simple fact that the amount of energy that can be stored in a spring is practically insignificant.

In 1763 a Frenchman by the name of Cugnot devised a vehicle that was propelled by steam, and a few years after the date of his first experiment, constructed for the French Government a gun carriage which is shown in Fig. 1. As will be seen, the design was of the