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The First Automobile Odometer Was Invented In 1903

National Odometer Day on May 12th each year provides an opportunity to learn a little bit about the odometer.

An odometer is an instrument that indicates the distance traveled by a vehicle. It may be electronic, mechanical or a combination of both.

  • The word odometer comes from the Greek words hodos meaning path or gateway and metron, meaning measure. In some countries, an odometer is called a mileometer, kilometer, or tripometer.
  • Odometers were first developed in the 1600s for wagons and other horse-drawn vehicles to measure distances traveled.
  • Arthur P. and Charles H. Warner of Beloit, Wisconsin developed the first odometer for the automobile which appeared in 1903 and was patented as the Auto-Meter.
  •  In 1847, William Clayton, a Mormon pioneer, invented his “roadmometer” and attached it to his wagon while heading to Utah.
  • The Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius is credited with inventing the initial version of an odometer in 15 BCE. The concept consisted of a chariot wheel that turned 400 times to show one Roman mile.
  • Each year, 450,000 automobiles are sold with fake odometer readings, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). One of the reasons it’s critical to buy a car from a reputable dealer and understand how to spot a faulty odometer is because of this.
  • Modern automobiles have one, but luxury automobiles have two. A pair of trip meters can be seen in many high-end automobiles.
  • invented in the Han dynasty, in the form of a road carriage with a drum. As the story goes, each time the measurement of distance was met, a wooden figure would hit the drum. Experts consider this to be a highly advanced version of the odometer (considering the time) and cite this as the influence on the present odometer.
  • 206 BC – 220 AD: Han Dynasty Invents The First Odometer
  • 700 – 460 BC: Before the odometer, distance in ancient Greece is measured by ‘bematists,’ or people specially trained to measure distances by counting steps.
  • 70 AD – Early descriptions of odometers are given by Hero of Alexandria and many more prominent figures.
  • 1600s – First Odometers Start Appearing on the Scene
  • May 12, 1847 – The ‘Roadometer’ Comes Into Being
  • 1903 – The First Automobile Odometer Is Born


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