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There are many surprising stories on the stage of world history.
The invention of the automobile is one.
And, so, our play begins.
In the 1670s, Ferdinand Verbiest was a Flemish Missionary and scientist.
He was sent to visit the court of the Kangxi Emperor in China.
The emperor's court was a dangerous place.
When Verbiest arrived, he was held prisoner, almost chopped to bits.
But instead was forced to compete in a series of math and astronomy contests.
You know, like you do.
Ultimately, Verbiest's performance so impressed the emperor, he banished the current astronomer and gave Verbiest the job.
Over the years they became friends.
Verbiest tutored the emperor in geometry, philosophy and music.
Around 1672, Verbiest designed, as a toy for his friend the emperor, a steam propelled trolley.
It was an automobile in the truest sense.
No one really knows if it got built.
The drawings that Verbiest did are all that remains.
Nonetheless, those designs are most likely the earliest self-moving machine ever conceived.
Many automobiles would follow over the years, but few were but few were conceived as a gift to a merciful emperor slash BFF.
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How the Emperor’s New Toy Gave Way to Your Car

5017 Folder Collection
Winnie Liao published on February 13, 2019    Winnie Liao translated    Evangeline reviewed
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