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The Inventor of the Cruise Control was Blind

July 1, 2017 - Reading time: 5 minutes

Here’s something that might seem counterintuitive to car drivers: The inventor of cruise control was BLIND. Yes, you read that right. His name was Ralph Teetor and he had no vision. Teetor dedicated his entire life to improving automobiles. At the age of five, Teetor was blinded in a shop accident, but that never stopped him. Car drivers have automatic transmission thanks to this mechanical engineering genius. People with “lead-feet” can thank this man for allowing them to cruise along at the same speed!

During World War II, the government imposed a 35 mph speed limit to limit gas. As it turns out, Ralph Teetor was in a car with his lawyer who was trying to maintain the speed limit that resulted in jerky driving that made Teetor carsick. Teetor's heightened sense of touch worked in his favor. As a result, the inventor came up with a device that would allow the speed of a vehicle to be maintained without the need of a gas pedal: cruise control. 1958 Chrysler models were the first cars to have offer cruise control technology.


Teetor’s lifetime achievements didn’t end there. His blindness did not hold him back as he was responsible for many other inventions and accolades, including:


  • He invented the powered lawn mower.

  • He created all types of lock mechanisms.

  • Teetor created holders for fishing rodsI’m a big fan of this one! No more, “Hey, hold my beer!”

  • Teetor was elected as president of the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1936.

  • He endowed the Society of Automotive Engineer's Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award in 1963.

  • In 1965, he got two honorary degrees: Doctor of Engineering at the Indiana Institute of Technology, and Doctor of Laws at Earlham College in Indiana.

  • He was made a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

  • In 1988, after his death, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan for all of his contributions to the automotive industry.


Let Ralph Teetor be your inspiration for never allowing anything to stand in your way of pursuing your dreams! We are more capable than we think!


Even though I hold no patents on my many inventions, AKA “special tools and manufacturer upgrades”, we pride ourselves on knowing the ins and outs of leading-edge automotive technology. We are passionate about automobiles and we hope you feel inspired to trust your auto’s repair to our highly-skilled team of ASE-Certified Auto Technicians. To schedule an appointment, call us at 706-549-5222. Japanese Motor Works is located at 200 Firefighter Court in Athens, GA 30607.


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