Humans have been moving around since the beginning of time. Fortunately, they have become much more skilled at getting from one place to another. Because we believe that to learn about the future you first must have a foundation in the past, here is a list of world-changing transportation related innovations in the last two centuries.
1869 - Railroads in the east and west of America are combined to create the first transcontinental railroad. Steam engine locomotives roll along the 1790 miles (2880 km) of track.
1879 - The beginnings of the car start here. A steam-powered tractor is built by Nicholas Cugnot.
1876 - The first "modern" style engine is created. Nikolaus Otto invents the four-stroke, internal combustion engine.
1902 - A new version of the old electric and steam-powered automobiles, the gasoline-powered automobile, becomes popular in America. The gasoline-fueled car was first unveiled in 1900 and developed five years earlier by Duryea brothers Frank and Charles.
1903 - The Wright brothers take off! The first-ever man-made flying contraption, build by Orville and Wilbur, makes history. Their plane was based on earlier models by an astronomer.
1908 - Finally, the automobile becomes affordable. With the introduction of mass production into the car manufacturing industry, Ford Motor company has managed to produce thousands of car models, called the Model T. Ford's cars become immensely popular.
1912 - Locomotives go diesel. The powerful diesel engine, invented by Rudolph Diesel in the late 19th century, is now used in trains.
1913 - Using assembly lines, Ford Motor Company has slashed automobile prices in half, down from the approximately $800 price in 1908.
1919 - The first flight crossing the Atlantic Ocean is made by British co-pilots Alcock and Brown.
1927 - Charles Lindbergh, flying in the Spirit of St. Louis, completes the first non-stop, solo, transatlantic flight.
1933 - The first modern passenger plane is created by Boeing. Called the 247, this plane can hold ten passengers and fly for 800 miles (1287 km) without stopping.
1939 - Igor Sikorsky produces a functional helicopter called the VS-300. It has room for one person and was developed for United Aircraft.
1944 - Igor Sikorsky adjusts and improves his helicopter, adding a closed cockpit and easier maneuverability. The new helicopter is mass-produced.
1947 - The sound barrier is broken for the first time as the Bell X-1 hits Mach 1. Captain Charles Yeager of the U.S. Air Force was the pilot of the small plane.
1958 - Transatlantic flights are made available to the public when British Overseas Corporation introduces the Comet 4 jet. It can hold up to eighty-four passengers and reach speeds of 535 miles per hour (860 km/h).
1968 - Regular hovercraft ferries are available between England and France. Hovercrafts float on a cushion of air between the water and boat. The first useable hovercraft was made in 1955, but the idea has existed for over a century.
1976 - Supersonic passenger planes begin scheduled flights. The Concorde can hold 100 passengers and travel at more than twice the speed of sound.
1981 - The train à grande vitesse, or TGV train, takes off at speeds of 237 miles per hour (380 km/h). It is called a bullet train, meaning it is smooth with a tapered end (like a bullet). It is electrically powered and can run on its own specialized track to achieve even greater speeds.
1988 - In Japan, the first maglev, or magnetically levitated train, comes into use. See trains for more information.
1992 - The almost silent Yamato 1 ship runs on magnetic power. It will be able reach speed 125 miles per hour (200 km/h or 100 knots). This revolutionary new ship uses seawater and magnets to propel itself.
Marshall Editions Developments Ltd (2001). Popular Science: Science year by year (R. Dinwiddie & V. Koeth, Eds.). London: Scholastic Inc.
Ritchie, D. A. (1997). American History: The modern era since 1865. US: Mcgraw-Hill.