The electric starter is officially a centenarian.
On Aug. 17, 1915, Charles Kettering was issued a patent for his “engine-starting device”—the first automotive electric starter.
Kettering, co-founder of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co. (or DELCO), was tasked with developing the new starter by Cadillac in 1911.
Prior to electric starters, drivers used iron hand cranks to fire their engines. In addition to being physically demanding, it was also dangerous because if drivers forgot to turn off the ignition before turning the crank, cars would sometimes backfire or lurch forward because so many of them were not equipped with brakes.
So please join us in saying: happy birthday, electric starter!
Kettering DID NOT invent or patent an ignition system. He patented the automobile self-starter. Inductive spark ignition had been around LONG before 1915.
You are correct, Bart. The wording in the article was incorrect and the changes have been made. Thanks for reading!