The Blind Engineer Who Gave Us Cruise Control

99% Invisible: Born in 1890, young Ralph Teetor was a perpetual tinkerer. He was blinded by an accident at the age of five but didn’t like to talk about his disability growing up. His father recognized his aptitude for building things and created a workshop for him when he was just ten years old, populating it with a variety of materials and tools. Then, as a young adult (at a time when many colleges rejected his application out of hand), Teetor pushed hard to get accepted at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.

After university, Teetor worked to dynamically balance steam turbines for U.S. Navy vessels. He was aided in part by his highly developed sense of touch — “His hands were his eyes,” recalls his biographer. Ever innovating, he also invented an early version of the powered lawn mower as well as creative locking mechanisms and other devices.

Teetor eventually returned to his hometown in Indiana, where he went to work in the family’s vehicular manufacturing and supply business — one with a long history of working on bicycles, trains and cars. Over the years, Teetor rose up through the ranks of Perfect Circle and went on to become the president of this growing company, overseeing nearly 3,000 employees. Along the way, though, he continued to work on his own designs, and had an idea that would take vehicles in a new direction.

As the story goes, Teetor was riding around one day in a car with his patent attorney, who often drove him places, when the discomfort of speeding up and slowing down gave him the idea for cruise control.  MORE

29 Comments on The Blind Engineer Who Gave Us Cruise Control

  1. My sciatica screams for it on trips longer than 10 minutes….
    ” Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” Geo. Orwell

  2. Really? I set the cruise control if I have a hundred yards of clear road. Between texting, emails, phone calls, and sight seeing it gives me one less thing to worry about. 5 over the limit and I don’t even look at speed traps.

  3. I use it most on a local road with a natural speed of 45-50 and a speed limit of 35. And speed traps. Just a couple of miles, but it’s a pain to keep the speed down otherwise, I don’t have to think about it with cruise control on.

  4. Nice try Brad, but you guys in Cali are 20 over as a rule. I set at 5 over and getting flipped off for slowing up traffic.

  5. I saw that too. Pearl Jam has been trouble for me for a while. They just did two sold out shows in Seattle with the profits going to support the homeless. The only thing we should be giving to the homeless in Seattle is a one way bus ticket out of town. Hell, we give them so much they keep coming here.

  6. Joe6pak

    “Nice try Brad, but you guys in Cali are 20 over as a rule. I set at 5 over and getting flipped off for slowing up traffic.”

    On hiway 5 yes. 99 not so much. I’ll haul my Bass Boat down 5 at 70. Hiway 99 is a Motocross track. I’ve seen some amazing wrecks on that road. So the federales clamp down on 99.

  7. You’re right Brad, they are not on our side. They haven’t been for a while. Everybody from Seattle (celebrities) are completely off the rails. Some of us regular folk, Illustr8r, AA the two Geoffs, JD, …..I know I’m leaving good guys out, we are way out numbered. Have you ever heard of McLemore, buddy of Russell Wilson’s I can’t stand those guys.

  8. I like to use cruise control on the main expressways through IL when on my way down to MO. Open roads entice me to do pedal to the metal. Don’t want to give IL any ticket money.

  9. joe6pak
    Had to look it up. A wrapper. I don’t do wrap. Quite honestly it makes me angry. My oldest boy drove up for a visit last night and had that shit blasting in my damn drive way. I told him to leave. And keep that shit off at my house. Now the boss is pissed off. It’s a trigger for me. LOL.

  10. And he is a white wrapper. He does a commercial with Russell Wilson. The white wrapper is standing in a swimming pool, up to his waist in water, and wearing a black leather jacket. Russel Wilson is sitting with his legs in the pool, and I can’t remember for sure but there is either birds or bugs fluttering around him. It’s sickening.

  11. joe6pak

    Nothing on earth can make me go from zero to sixty like rap music. I’ve had incidences at gas staitons where “mature” males show up and mistakenly think the rest of us want to listen to their auto Hi Fi blasting mating rituals from extinct persons. I’m batting a 1,000 so far.My freaken kid does it just to light me up I think. I guess it worked. He missed out on a pretty good meal.

  12. joe6pak

    Saw those guys about 6 years ago. Awesome. 12 years ago we watched a cover band perform their stuff at Kemo’s in Lahaina. Probably the most awesome place on the face of the earth.

  13. Interesting + informative article.

    99 is a mountain road. INHO not a place for anything but close attention to the road.

    The Golden State is “a straight away” set it at 90 and be alert for CHP.
    which is just what I did a month ago.

  14. I like cruise control. I figure if I engage it on my truck and start running into things it turns my Truck into a poor man’s Tesla! Classy.

  15. I set the cruse control at the posted speed limit and people behind me are pissed off, weaving back and forth, flashing their headlights and honking their horns for me to get out of their f- way.

  16. I don’t know of anyone who use cruise control as much as I do, especially now that they kick in at 25 unlike the 40 they used to (although the that is 40 K here in the great white north.).

    I lived in Seattle for over 20 years but now I avoid it like the plague.


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