How a Blind Electrical Engineer Was Inspired by His Inefficient Driver to Invent Cruise Control

Great Big Story tells the remarkable history of Ralph Teeter, a brilliant electrical engineer who needed to rely upon others to drive him around due to his blindness. During a series of nausea-inducing rides due to the fuel sparing 35 MPH rule, it occurred to Teeter that there might be a way to efficiently keep a constant set speed without input from the driver. This let to the invention of the Speedostat, which later became far well known as Cruise Control.

He lost his vision as a child, but that didn’t slow him down. What did get in his way, however, was his lawyer’s driving. He’d break, then quickly accelerate—all in the name of obeying a conservation-minded, World War II era, 35-mph speed limit. It made Ralph sick to his stomach, so he invented a little something called cruise control.