Ralph R. Teetor

What is Ralph R. Teetor Best Known For?

Curious about what Raph R. Teetor is known for?

Ralph R. Teetor was an inventor and industrialist who specialized in designing and building useful automotive parts and components. He lived during the turn of the 19th century and the Ralph R. Teetor's life parallels the story of much of the United States' early automobiles. A story that continues today. That's because what Ralph R. Teetor is best known for is developing a device that many see as a direct precursor to the development of autonomous vehicles and driver-assist technologies. That device he developed was what is now known worldwide as the Cruise Control.

The Ralph R. Teetor story behind how he came up with Cruise Control is quite the story in and of itself. According to family and company lore, Ralph R. Teetor was inspired to create a speed device due to a frustration most of us have had before: at another person's driving. This story reveals that Teetor was riding with his patent attorney one day out in the country. This attorney was the one behind the wheel and he had the habit of hitting the gas a bit too hard followed by braking, known to drivers as "throttle-braking." This pattern of speeding up and slowing down annoyed Teetor so much that he endeavored to find a way to fix it; to steady the speed of the automobile.

For 10 years, Ralph R. Teetor tinkered on inventing a speed device for drivers like his attorney until finally making a break-through and filing his first patent on the device in 1946, with the trademark name "Speedostat."  In 1958, Chrysler introduced this device on their luxury models and called it "Auto-pilot."  Cadillac followed the next year and called it the "Cruise Control," becoming the popular name now recognized throughout the world.  Other brands followed in 1960 and many more in years to come.