Wonder Wednesdays – Who invented taxicabs?

Who invented the taxi?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Answer: The taximeter was invented by three German inventors:  Wilhelm Friedrich Nedler, Ferdinand Dencker, and Friedrich Wilhelm Gustav Bruhn. I didn’t realize that taxi was short for a larger word, so then I also because curious about why it was called a taxi cab…

So it looks like the English borrowed the French word “taxi” which came from “taximeter-cabriolet.” When the taximeter-cabriolet reached England, it was shortened to “cab” because “cabriolet” was quite a mouthful.

Taxi, from the word “taxe,” is “a charge”; so, a taximeter “measures the charge”. (Which makes sense because that’s what it does. XD)

Cabriolet is pure French for a “two-wheeled carriage”. “Cab” is the first syllable of “cabriolet.”

The first cabriolet (or sometimes called cabriole), was built in France in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was a light two-wheeled carriage pulled by a single horse, and it had a large leather hood and a leather apron to protect the legs of the passengers from the water, mud, and dirt that was kicked up by the horse. It looked something like this:

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

“Cabriolet” is from the French “cabri” meaning “kid” or “young goat” because the original non-car taxi had a spring system that caused it to bounce around in a way the resembled a young goat.

And now, for the question that I actually set out to find the answer to, and ended up finding out all that above: Why are taxi cabs yellow? Well…

This happened in the year 1907. A man named John Hertz had a plethora of cars that had been traded in and decided to start a taxi business. Because apparently when you have an oversupply of cars, that’s what you do with them. (Seriously, it’s cool that’s what he decided to do with them.) Because taxis need to be seen among the many cars on the road (I didn’t realize many cars were on the road in 1907…) he had to be choosy in which color to paint his new taxicabs. A survey was taken by the University of Chicago which stated that yellow was the easiest color to pick out, so that is what he went with.

Image Credit: Pixabay

So taxis are yellow because of a survey. Just think, if the survey has said purple, we might have a bunch of purple taxis out there. 🙂


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