One Man's Gadget

May 10, 1997

RAY: OK. Here's the puzzler this week.

TOM: Quasi-automotive you said.

RAY: It is rather automotive, actually.

TOM: Rather automotive.

RAY: This was sent in by Jody Favv and this was sent via the internet -- so I don't know Jody -- where he or she is -- Jody could be either a man's name or a woman's name -- I don't know where he or she is from but I'm going to use it anyway.

TOM: Sure.

RAY: Jody says "here's a puzzler for ya."

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: In the early 1930's a young inventor came up with an idea for a little gadget which could be installed in an automobile.

TOM: Nickolai Tessler!

RAY: Will you let me finish? '30s! When he tried to sell his idea to his favorite gadget builder, the guy didn't want to build it. He was afraid that Congress would legislate against it because it would be distracting to drivers.

TOM: Rear view mirror.

RAY: Close.

TOM: Headlights!

RAY: But the inventor was very persuasive and convinced this guy to build 100 of these little gadgets which were later sold in front of the factory in just 10 minutes.

TOM: Glove compartments.

RAY: No. A multibillion dollar business was built on this little gadget and you'll hardly ever see a car without one now. What is it called?

TOM: Wow!

RAY: And for extra credit, who invented it? What else did he invent? And where does he now live?

TOM: You going to throw in blood type and hygiene too?


TOM: Well, the little gadget that you have been referring to is none other than the cellular phone. And yes, my car does have a cellular phone and I don't know the second part -- his name and all that stuff -- does he prefer HBO...

RAY: Of course it wasn't the cellular phone - it was the car radio.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Hard to believe, huh?

TOM: Yeah. And I was thinking that was the beginning -- and I agree with the distraction theory -- and it's interesting...

RAY: That was the beginning of the...

TOM: That was the very first thing put into a car that was not directly related to driving the car.

RAY: And they should never have allowed it because it opened the floodgates.

TOM: It opened the floodgates and now we have jerks eating bowls of cereal while they drive, talking on the phone, getting faxes, playing with their newtons... Yeah. You got it.

RAY: Exactly.

TOM: And all because of whoever this guy was which would be part B. Who was he?

RAY: Bill Lear, who of course is best known for inventing the Lear Jet and forming a huge corporation, Lear Incorporated. He's now left us. You may channel with him if you like -- he's on HBO tonight.

TOM: I will do that.

RAY: Anyway.

TOM: Yeah. Oh, now you are going to ask who's the winner.

RAY: Who's the winner? You don't know that? You don't have that part at the ready, do you?

TOM: I don't. No. Well I got it here. Wow I can't pronounce this. The winner is Dean Soclaeben (SP?) Wow!

RAY: How about Sock-Layben?

TOM: Socklaeben.

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