The stoplight is 100 years old! image

Do you know how much we rely on the familiar green, yellow, red lights when driving? We’re sure you’ll realize that only when they’re malfunctioning, allowing havoc to creep into our well organized crossings.

Can you imagine a world without the traffic light? We can’t. Really. But there were times when people made do without it. But it was way back – actually 100 years this week. Although many claim to have the first stoplight, usually historians agree the first one was set up on the corner of Euclid and 105th in Cleveland, US.

Cleveland was in the day second only to Detroit in terms of automotive industry progress, so Ohio inventor James Hoge came up with the idea to combat the mounting automotive gridlocks with the first stoplights manufactured by the American Traffic Signal Company. The “Municipal Traffic Control System” required an on site operator to turn on and off the lights and lacked the familiar “yellow” light.

A police officer, Detroit’s William L. Potts, is today credited with the invention of the familiar Red-Yellow-Green combo, which was first setup at the intersection of Woodward and Michigan avenues, with the system automated by 1921. Still, in America many cities – including the New York metropolis – actually stayed at the initial Red-Green setup into the 1960s.

Today, the common traffic lights are ready to undergo a new revolution – after they were linked to smart computers that measure traffic flow and adjust the timing – as the era of the connected and autonomous car is preying upon us.