Have you tried one of those “new” electric scooters that seem to be popping up in cities everywhere?
Well, they might not be as new as you thought. Here is a photograph taken in 1916. That’s 103 years ago:
This is the original electric scooter, called an Autoped.
The Eveready Autoped is one such device – it was the world’s first scooter, manufactured in New York from 1915 to 1921. It sold for just US$100, offering 125 mpg (1.9 l/100km) transportation at 25 mph (40 km/h). It was perhaps too far ahead of its time, but it remains one of the most significant transportation devices in history.
One of the Autoped’s key features was its ability to fold away, and despite this convenience, it seems that living and parking space in New York was not at quite the same premium that it is 100 years later, because sales did not achieve their targets and Autoped production ceased in 1921. In Europe there was greater acceptance and the Autoped was manufactured by the giant Krupp company in Germany under license from 1919 to 1922.
The Autoped was sold to individuals as well as to the U.S. Post Office and to many police departments. (Police patrol cars were rare at the time. The Autoped was rather good at quickly traveling through cities.)
The Autoped was clearly aimed at the independent woman of the period.