Traffic Light

Preventing accidents since 1912

Traffic signal first invented in 1912!

  • 1912- John Wire

-first traffic signal invented by him

-red-and-green light with a buzzer to warn pedestrians of a change of light

-buzzer: an audio signaling device

-handmade wooden box

-on a pole with the wires attached to hang on trolley and light wires


Not only Wire...

  • Garrett Morgan

-given credit for invention of the traffic signal

*based on his T-shaped design

-patented in 1923

*sold to General Electric


Interesting facts

  • 1914- world's first electric traffic signal is put at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio
  • The traffic signal in Cleveland is based on a design by James Hoge

-1918- he received a patent for his "Municipal Traffic Control System"

-four pairs of red and green lights mounted on a corner post

-wired to a manually operated switch inside a control booth

-The switch was manually operated to prevent the same signal at once

  • The traffic light got rid of the dangerous job of policeman giving traffic signals.
  • Four-way light was an improvement since a policeman could only give two signals at a time.

How was industrial growth impacted?

The light allowed policeman to focus on other problems than directing traffic. Also, the Cleveland Automobile Club said "This system is, perhaps, destined to revolutionize the handling of traffic in congested city streets and should be seriously considered by traffic committees for general adoption." Therefore, the lights prevented traffic and accidents in congested areas.

What does it look like today, and how has it changed?

Today, the traffic light has a yellow light instead of the buzzer that represents caution and slow down and to warn people of a changing signal. Also, traffic lights are on a timer and are no longer manually changed.