Jun
9
2009

Who invented the Segway

The Segway electric vehicle made by Segway Inc of the United States is a unique battery powered vehicle that needs only two wheels and self balances while riders stand with their feet placed on two small platforms located on the inside edge of each wheel. A steering column is positioned in the center of the vehicle with controls for acceleration and braking.

In 2001 the Segway PT, short for personal transporter, was officially unveiled by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway on the ABC TV show “Good Morning America” with Diane Sawyer who uttered the infamous line “That’s it?” in a very underwhelmed tone of voice after the wraps were taken off.

dean kamen Who invented the Segway

The previous year Kamen’s new invention had been widely speculated about as the new thing in transportation that Steve Jobs famously said would force cities to be redesigned. The story leaked about the imminent release of the Segway after Kamen had invited a journalist Steve Kemper to his DEKA factory to see the Segway prototype. Diane Sawyer’s reaction was sadly echoed by many and sales of the Segway were a disappointing 6,000 units in it’s first 3 years.

Dean Kamen had previously made his fortune with a number of other inventions such as the AutoSyringe allowing patients to receive medications reliably without having to be under constant care, and the iBot, a gyroscope balanced wheelchair that could climb stairs.

Kamen’s inventions have allowed him to develop an invention design company, DEKA, that employs over two hundred staff, and is the company that overseas all of his inventions. Shortly after the first Segway was launched, a spinoff company was founded with it’s own purpose designed factory to manufacture and sell the Segway PT. In 2002 the Segway finally reached the market.

Late 2002, after the disappointing release of the Segway PT it emerged that in fact Dean Kamen may not have been the actual inventor of the vehicle after a Japanese professor, Kazuo Yamafuji from Tokyo University announced that he had invented and produced prototypes of a similar vehicle in 1986, and that he and his colleagues had also registered a patent for their vehicle.

segway Who invented the Segway

In fact Dean Kamen never claimed to be the inventor, his own patent application acknowledged the previous Japanese patent, thought Kamen’s representative stated that the Segway PT was so different being produced 15 year later that there was no need to change their belief that the Segway PT was invented by DEKA and Dean Kamen.

About the Author:

Sam Reese is a web enthusiasts and blogger. He is a history student and loves to write and read histories of different things.

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