Happy Tenth Anniversary, Segway!

Reinventing the Wheel

Ten years ago on this day, Dean Kamen unveiled the Segway — aka “Ginger” — to the world on Good Morning America.

The commercial ambitions of Kamen and his team are as advanced as their technical virtuosity. By stealing a slice of the $300 billion-plus transportation industry, Doerr predicts, the Segway Co. will be the fastest outfit in history to reach $1 billion in sales. To get there, the firm has erected a 77,000-sq.-ft. factory a few miles from its Manchester, N.H., headquarters that will be capable of churning out 40,000 Segways a month by the end of next year.

Kamen’s aspirations are even grander than that. He believes the Segway “will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” He imagines them everywhere: in parks and at Disneyland, on battlefields and factory floors, but especially on downtown sidewalks from Seattle to Shanghai. “Cars are great for going long distances,” Kamen says, “but it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-lb. piece of metal to haul their 150-lb. asses around town.” In the future he envisions, cars will be banished from urban centers to make room for millions of “empowered pedestrians”–empowered, naturally, by Kamen’s brainchild.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

Maybe that was for the best, after all:

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