Pretty Amazing Inventions! Part 1: The Automatic Transmission

Want to buy a car for your kid? Go for an automatic! Want to buy a car for your wife?- Go for an automatic! That is the lamest and most common advice you get from your relatives or from your vehicle advisers. But why?

Why automatics?

Cause automatics are the best thing that can happen to the dumbhead drivers who are really bored of changing gears and/or really suck at it. I mean who can be bored of moving a stick backwards and forward a couple of times man? Anyways, the point being, Automatic transmissions are now being the hot topics in the country and also that, it has now become a major marketing point for car makers across the country.

No matter what vehicle it is, whether being an SUV or a shitty hatchback or a pickup truck maybe, everything is being suited to this automatic transmission thing! Just because, people are ready to pay more for the fewer efforts needed. People don’t get it, that less effort also means more fuel consumption. More Fuel expenditure means a big void in your bank account. And ultimately it means fewer savings at the end of the year.

When was the Automatic Transmission Invented?

Although some of us might think that it was merely a few years ago, but the fact is that this invention took place way before anyone can expect it to be! It has already crossed over 100 years and however unbelievable it may sound, the automatic transmission was first invented in 1904! It was an era which can be referred to as the Birth of The Modern Age.

Long back in 1883, there was a company named Sturtevant, which was a family business run by Thomas. L Sturtevant. The whole purpose behind he setting up the company was to satisfy the ever increasing need of mechanisation in the fertiliser Industry. Thereafter, as the Industry was set up, the next gen of the Sturtevant family was then expected to expand the company’s horizon. The younger generation comprised of two young lads, one of them was Lawerence, Mr Strutevant’s Son and his nephew, Thomas. J Sturtevant.

Thomas J. Sturtevant

Company's Inventions For The Fertilizing Segments

Company’s Inventions For The Fertilising Segments(SOURCE)

Company's Inventions For The Fertilizing Segments

Company’s Inventions For The Fertilising Segments(SOURCE)

This young master was blessed with a bright mind and also had a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology back in 1880-90’s. Thereafter, this brilliant lad couldn’t just settle with the fertilising machinery and hence the Sturtevant company soon branched out in the automotive field. The company was soon famous and made some important inventions and advancements in the field which included vacuum breaks and automatic engine lubrication as well! Over every of his idea’s one which proved to be out of the box was Automatic Transmission system.

Automatic Transmission (1904)

Sturtevant's First Automatic Transmission Vehicle Project

Sturtevant’s First Automatic Transmission Vehicle Project(SOURCE)

Back then, it was really a headache for designers to transfer the power from an engine to the wheels automatically! There were no software’s who could virtually calculate and simulate whatever was going in your mind. People had to actually invest in that thing, buy the whole thing, break it down to pieces, build it up again and if it doesn’t work, then well, live with it!

The automotive industry was booming and people were crazily in love with fast going cars. Master Sturtevant then had a brilliant idea, as he wanted to build something which could shift the gears without the need of disengaging the engine due to the clutch action. This is how he invented the first ever Automatic transmission mechanism.

Although it proved to be a failure, the mechanism led to today’s invention of the automatic transmission.

The Mechanism

The Mechanism behind Automatic Transmission

The Mechanism behind Automatic Transmission(SOURCE)

In his first model, Sturtevant used centrifugal force to change gears. He used a number of weights to change the gears of the car. The increased speed of car caused the weights to swing outward in direction. As the weights went proportionally outward, they used to engage with specific bands. This action thereafter shifts the gears from low to high gear and vice-versa. This particular model didn’t prove to be a success, as the weights would usually fly apart or would go haywire. The point being, the module didn’t work, but nevertheless, it proved that vehicles could be driven without changing gears and hence the concept of the automatic transmission was proven.

The Beginning of New Era

The Beginning of New Era.(SOURCE)

Hydramatic :

Hydra-Matic The First ever mass produced Automatic Transmissions.

Hydra-Matic The First ever mass produced Automatic Transmissions.(SOURCE)

It took several years and numerous attempts for the mechanism to work neatly and for the concept to prove its metal. Finally, the first ever automatic transmission was out in 1940, it was developed by General Motors and Oldsmobile division.

The Collaboration. Hydramatic!

The Collaboration.

Hydramatic Adds From 1945-50's

Hydramatic Adds From 1945-50’s. (SOURCE)

It was known as the Hydramatic(Hydra-matic). It was the first ever automatic transmission which was produced on a mass scale and was available for passengers use.

Car Adjustment Service

Car Adjustment Service Manual.(SOURCE)

1940 The Automatic Transmission- Get with Extra Cash!

1940 The Automatic Transmission- Get with Extra Cash!(SOURCE)

Also Read About, Why manuals are preferred over Automatics.

About The Author


Leave a Reply