The History of Car Horn Technology

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Almost all automobiles out there has a horn; you would be hard pressed to find a motoring vehicle that doesn’t have one. In most cities, you hear them blaring constantly. And, as you might already know, the relationship between cars and horns goes back many decades, and the United States is not where it began. We have the story on automobiles and their horns:

car horn

The Start

Horns go back to the mid-1800s in Britain where steam powered carriages were just starting to be used. For pedestrians’ and animals’ safety, a law said “…self-propelled vehicles on public roads must be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag and blowing a horn.” However, it did not take long to realize that a horn mounted on the car was more efficient than someone walking in front of the car blowing a horn, which lasted for about ten years. Later, people responded with different whistles, sirens, chimes and horns.

Later On

In the early 1900s, when cars started to be driven in America, the car-mounted horn became the attention-getting device for drivers. A squeeze on the bulb and everyone around knew you and your car were close by. According to Atlantic Lexus in Farmingdale, NY, some people wanted a more powerful warning contraption, one that could be heard at least an eighth of a mile ahead, by 1910.Here’s an example: the Sireno, named after mythological creatures who had mariners destruct, was advertised as a genuine “one-mile signal”.

Evolved Horns

The Klaxon horn came around by the 1920s. A Klaxon horn, the Greek word klaxo means “to shriek” so, this Klaxon horn used to make the sound through an electrically-powered vibrating diaphragm. The Klaxon horn is the “Aoogha” horns on the Model T and Model A Fords of the 1920’s and 1930’s. That type of horn is probably one of the most memorable in automotive history. The horns were loud and effective at getting pedestrians and animals out of the way. Inventor Miller Rees Hutchinson was responsible for the Klaxon horn’s release to vehicles.

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Since the 1930s, manufacturers have experimented with the sound chamber and basic Klaxon-type diaphragm to make sounds. The goal is to produce horns that are kind to the ear but still able to be heard over the low-frequency rumble of traffic.

Today’s Horns

Up until the middle of the 1960’s the majority of American car horns were tuned to the musical notes of E-flat or C. Due to vehicles’ better soundproofing, they are more often tuned to notes F-sharp and A-sharp that are more penetrating. The design of car horns has also entered the digital era with some car horns being really just powerful speakers that electronic circuitry drives. Although, we now have such high-tech designs but the old-fashioned vibrating diaphragm horn is still around, as it works well and is a super great example of staying with a technology that performs the job well at the 110 decibels of sound it puts out.

We hope you enjoyed this article about the history of car horns! Thank you for reading!

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