IELTS Writing 5. Summary: First Headlamps
Before electricity, flames cast limited light, are vulnerable to winds and weather, and can lead to disaster. The early trains travelled only during the day because the tracks were too dangerous during the dark of night. In the late 1830s, railroad traffic became heavy enough for freight trains to delay passenger trains that trains started running freight trains at night. Haratio Allan's 1831 innovation, the "Track Illuminator," used a pile of pine knots burning with an iron. In 1841, some trains used an oil lamp backed by a curved reflector but oil lamps blew out easily in the wind.
In 1851, the first electric headlamp was developed. This headlamp had two major drawbacks: it required its own generator, and the delicate parts broke easily as a result of the rough rails over which the trains traveled. The French first used steam generators to power electric headlamps on trains. In the United States in 1897, George C. Pyle developed an efficient electric headlamp. By 1916, Federal law required trains to have electric headlamps.
The requirements for car headlamps were more stringent then trains. Despite these tougher requirements, the Colombia Electric Car was equipped with electric headlamps in 1898. Electric headlamps made travel at all hours and in almost all weather possible, something we take for granted today.