The Google Doodle on Wednesday celebrated 101 years of traffic lights and offers a glimpse into the chaotic traffic flow of a century gone by.
While it was an American cop Lester Wire, in Utah, who first developed an electric traffic light in 1912 and used red-green lights, the American Traffic Signal Company is credited for installing a traffic signal system on the corner of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio two years later on 5 August 1914.
The traffic lights came as a blessing for policemen who were forced to direct horse-drawn carriages, carts and cars by waving their hands in the middle of jam-packed highways, often braving the freezing mid-western winter. Soon, traffic lights started springing up across the United States of America.
This wasn’t, however, the first time when people tried to find alternatives to traffic problems. First-ever traffic lights were introduced in London during the late 19th century. Gas-lit and non-electric, policemen had to work on these lights by hand to control the flow of vehicles crossing on Bridge street, Parliament Street and Great George Street.
But this project was shortlived. In 1869, a leak in gas lines passing under the lights exploded, injuring the policeman operating the device. These devices were known to spontaneously explode and thus proved ineffective.
Doodler Nate Swineheart visualised the illustration with shades of black and white as a throwback to memories and images of the past century. The usage of the background colours and the animation is quite interesting in a way that it accentuates the red and green lights depicting how the traffic situation was more of a ‘stop-and-go’, where cars would often screech to a halt and zoom off instantly when it turns green.