Electric Traffic Light Turns 101

By Paul Riegler on 5 August 2015
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Cars stopped at a traffic light in Nassau County, N.Y.

Cars stopped at a traffic light in Nassau County, N.Y.

Wednesday marks the 101st anniversary of the installation of the first electric stoplight. It was installed on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5, 1914.

The first non-electric, gas-operated stoplight was put into operation in 1868 in London, England, although the concept was quickly abandoned. While the device seemed to be fairly successful at controlling traffic, it had to be hand-operated by police officers, and a gas explosion in 1869 put an end to the idea.

Fast-forward to 1912, when former Salt Lake City policeman, Lester Wire, invented the first electric stoplight. It was installed two years later.

The 1912 design featured red and green colors, similar to today’s traffic lights, and had a buzzer that served the same purpose as today’s yellow light.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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