TOLEDO, Ohio-At first his own company rejected, for marketing reasons, the product he developed. But Ralph Teetor persisted, and today is credited with an invention that makes cruising the nation's interstates relatively effortless for countless drivers.
Mr. Teetor, a blind engineer for-and eventually president of-Perfect Circle, experimented with an automotive speed control in 1931.
After spurts of development over 20 years, he perfected the ``Speedostat'' in 1955-the first version of what has become the cruise control unit in modern vehicles.
Because limited access roads were just starting to spread across the nation, Perfect Circle initially rejected his invention, determining that the potential customer base for cruise control was too small.
But as interstate highways became more prevalent, the company, now a division of Dana Corp., began offering a production version of the Speedostat optional on 1958 Chrysler Imperials.
By 1966, a mechanical version of cruise control based on Mr. Teetor's original Speed-ostat concept was available on 20 different cars, according to Perfect Circle.
The first electronic version of the device was introduced 10 years later.