Ford drove the first automobile down the streets of Detroit in 1890. It would take another 30 years before the company streamlined production and made cars available to the mass market. The obvious lesson: Sometimes technology has a long gestation period before we can scale it for everyday use. But, digging a bit deeper, there is a more profound lesson.
Over the first hundred years of the self-propelled vehicle, manufacturers established essential building blocks — standard components like the combustion engine, steering wheel, and axle. These building blocks enabled scale, which led to wider adoption. And, as is often the case, the building blocks catalyzed complementary innovations, which then helped improve the building blocks.
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