1847 – William Clayton invented the odometer.


The “roadometer”
Clayton is credited with inventing a version of the modern odometer, during this trip across the plains from Missouri to Utah, with the help of Apostle and mathematician Orson Pratt. He was assigned to record the number of miles the company traveled each day. After three weeks, Clayton tired of personally counting the revolutions of a wagon wheel and computing the day’s distance by multiplying the count by the wheel’s circumference. After consulting with Pratt, he developed a design consisting of a set of wooden cog wheels attached to the hub of a wagon wheel, with the mechanism “counting” or recording by position the revolutions of the wheel. The apparatus was built by the company’s carpenter Appleton Milo Harmon. Clayton’s journal records: “About noon today Brother Appleton Harmon completed the machinery on the wagon called a ‘roadometer’ by adding a wheel to revolve once in ten miles, showing each mile and also each quarter mile we travel, and then casing the whole over so as to secure it from the weather. The “roadometer” was first used on the morning of May 12, 1847.

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