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The First Traffic Light

Updated on November 17, 2015

Here is a little unknown fact about the good old traffic light, which at the same time is both a little bit strange and very true. In this current age of technology in 2014, traffic lights have come a long long way from their humble beginnings from years ago. Today traffic lights are composed of modern little multiple LED light bulbs. So if one or more of those miniature bulbs burn out the traffic light keeps on working. The next time you are stopped at a traffic light, take a minute to look up at it. You will see a whole bunch of little balls of light in the traffic light lens. Those little balls of light are actually all of the miniature LED lights, which now tell you to stop and start. This new technology also reduces the labor which was needed to often change the much larger single bulb on the older style traffic lights. When those older bulbs burned out the entire red, yellow or green area of that traffic light didn't work, and was rendered useless until it was repaired with a replacement bulb. Back in the early days of the automobile, traffic lights weren't around because there was no need for them yet. But as more cars and trucks congested the roadways, police officers were called in to direct traffic, especially in the larger cities. The very first traffic signal began operating 100 years ago in Cleveland, Ohio in the year 1914. However the first traffic light wasn't much of a labor-saver. For it to operate, a police officer had to sit in a nearby booth where he could over see the traffic. At least that got the police officer out of harms way, and out of the weather, but manpower was still necessary for traffic direction. In the past 97 years we all have really come a long way. This will now complete, and conclude your class in "Traffic Light 101".

The older model traffic signal
The older model traffic signal
The modern LED Traffic signal
The modern LED Traffic signal

Have you ever gotten a ticket for driving through a red light? (I once got a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign, which is another hub all by itself)

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    • Paolocruz profile image

      Paolo Cross 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      The title brought me here. I never thought that someone would write about this. Nice one, man!

    • Credence2 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      I guess that I learn something new every day! Thanks, Cred2

    • calvinlau88 profile image


      7 years ago from Malaysia

      great sharing fun hub ~

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      7 years ago

      Fun hub! Your hub's picture is great too! Some "corner" cops really do turn their duties into entertainment.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      I enjoyed this little bit of insight. You must always look at every day things in a different way and wonder.

    • TheHoleStory profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

      That is 100% correct drbj. You never cease to amaze me!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Fascoinating info about traffic lights, THS. I'll probably be so busy checking out the new little LED lights I may not notice what color is showing and drive right through.

      With regard to the ale in question #16, Ballantine was first produced by Ballantine, then Falstaff, then Pabst (who contracted the brewing to Miller). Right?

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      7 years ago

      TheHoleStory - Believe this or not, just yesterday I was sitting at an intersection where it requires at least two light changes to make it through. I asked myself the question you just answered. "Who the hell invented these things"? Traffic lights are like many inventions, both a curse and a cure. As much as they frustrate me, I can only imagine what driving would be like without traffic lights. Thanks for solving this for me.


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