That's an analogy from Steve Jobs, quoted in a NYT article about the newest iteration of the iPad. Is it really true that the earliest cars were truck-like? I didn't believe that. I Google. I get to Wikipedia. I'm amazed and call out this question to Meade (who is editing dog video in the next room): "When do you think the earliest thing that could be called a car — an automobile — was?" He says 1910, then re-guesses 1890. I say: "1672."
Ferdinand Verbiest, a member of a Jesuit mission in China, built the first steam-powered vehicle around 1672 as a toy for the Chinese Emperor. It was of small enough scale that it could not carry a driver but it was, quite possibly, the first working steam-powered vehicle ('auto-mobile').Yes, you can say that doesn't count. But if it doesn't, we've still got things in the 18th century:
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot demonstrated his fardier à vapeur ("steam dray"), an experimental steam-driven artillery tractor, in 1770 and 1771. As Cugnot's design proved to be impractical, his invention was not developed in his native France. The centre of innovation shifted to Great Britain. By 1784, William Murdoch had built a working model of a steam carriage in Redruth, and in 1801 Richard Trevithick was running a full-sized vehicle on the road in Camborne. Such vehicles were in vogue for a time, and over the next decades such innovations as hand brakes, multi-speed transmissions, and better steering developed. Some were commercially successful in providing mass transit, until a backlash against these large speedy vehicles resulted in the passage of the Locomotive Act (1865), which required self-propelled vehicles on public roads in the United Kingdom to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag and blowing a horn.When do you think was the earliest law stopping progress?