Sunday, October 16, 2005

Weird Science: Origin of Taxicab


I’m pretty sure that most have ridden in one, or watched the show "Taxi", or could recognize New York’s famous yellow ones. But, ever wonder where they originated, and who operated the first ones?

Sorry, the mighty US was not the first to employ taxicabs - not by a long shot.

Let’s start with the word itself - Taxicab. So familiar to us today, but a word which never existed before 1897.

The word taxicab is actually a combination of two words.

The first word is taximeter; an instrument created by German inventor Wilhelm Bruhn in 1891 to automatically record distance traveled or time consumed.

The second word is cabriolet; this is a two wheeled, one horse drawn carriage which was often rented.

Combine these two words and uses and we get the word taxicab, a short form of taximeter-cabriolet.

The very fist employed were two Benz-Kraftdroschkes operated by "Drosch-kenbesitzer" Dutz in Stuttgart, Germany. This was in 1896.

One year later, in May of 1897, Friedrich Greiner started up a service as well in the same city. He used motorized vehicles fitted with taximeters and his vehicles could be considered the first "true" taxicabs.

Those crafty, crafty Germans. And most think the only thing they ever came up with were Volkswagens.
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