Sometime ago Suw kicked this off .
Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.
Well. Here we go. For this I have decided to go local and historical. Ladenburg, where I live, is one of the cradles of the automotive industry. It is where the Benz family lived. My Ada figure is Bertha Benz.
Bertha Benz (née Ringer) (born 3 May 1849 in Pforzheim, Germany, married inventor Karl Benz on 20 July 1872, and died 5 May 1944 in Ladenburg), was the first person to drive an automobile over a long distance.
On 5 August 1888 and without her husband’s knowledge, she drove her sons, Richard and Eugen, fourteen and fifteen years old, in one of Benz’s newly-constructed Patent Motorwagen automobiles—from Mannheim to Pforzheim—becoming the first person to drive an automobile over more than a very short distance. The distance was more than 106 km (more than sixty miles). Distances traveled before this historic trip were short, and merely trials with mechanical assistants. (From Wikipedia.)
Other interesting information about that trip. She repaired a fuel line blockage with a hairpin, and fixed the ignition with a garter.
Without this expedition, it is quite unlikely that Karl Benz would have had the successes that followed. She took on the conventions of the time and proved to the world that this newfangled thing had a purpose. Not only was this brave, but I reckon it was one of the greatest advertising and marketing moves in history. With this one trip, she turned the Patent Motorwagen 3 from perpetual beta into the real thing. Just think what impact this would have had on the male ego of 1888.
It seems to me that this was a family business, and Bertha deserves just as much credit as Karl got.
There is now a sign posted route following that first drive.
This is goodness, but next time you see a Mercedes-Benz, pause, and think about Bertha.
As the automotive industry now faces its biggest crisis, it would do well to look to Bertha Benz’s legacy for inspiration. Thanks Bertha for taking that drive.