Vincent G. Apple Was A Self Starter
Dayton originals. We have many of them still around, but in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there seemed to be a brainstorm that brewed over the Miami Valley, striking the populace with the adventuresome allure of invention. One of the most prolific among them was a man named Vincent G. Apple. Born in Miamisburg, Ohio on January 26th, 1874, Vincent went on to found his first company (Franklin Electric Company) at the tender age of eighteen. The Franklin Electric Company eventually evolved into the Dayton Electric and Manufacturing Company, with several more ventures following, including Apple Electric Company and Apple Laboratories.
Apple’s inventive nature rivaled that of Thomas Alva Edison, surpassing the Wizard of Menlo Park in some respects. Apple’s inventions included a magneto starting system for the Wright Flyer, an automobile lighting system, tungsten bulbs and, his most acknowledged invention, the isolated home/farm lighting system. Apple had received 350 patents in his lifetime and, at the time of his death at age 58, there were still 130 patents awaiting approval at the Patent Office. Other inventions that he had developed would have brought the amount of patents he had either received or was eligible for to around 1,500 total patents.
When looking up Vincent G. Apple’s history, I came across a passage on Wright State’s Miami Valley-Dayton – Inventors and Inventions page which said, “In 1902, he introduced what is thought to be the first electric self-starter for an automobile.” This struck me as odd and I referred to two pictures that I had obtained some years ago. I actually found them in a junk shop on E. Third St., at the bottom of an old freezer chest, the kind used by soda shops back in the day. There were stacks of pictures and I chose these two because they were old pictures of cars and I thought that my father, a car aficionado, might appreciate them. I gave very little thought to the typewritten notes, glued to the back of the photographs on some type of woven linen. I had read the notes, but was overly unfamiliar with the history of automobiles, but when I read that little line on the Wright State site, I knew that the name Vincent G. Apple had appeared in the notes.
Here are the two photographs, front and back. If you have any information about the history of the pictures, or the invention, feel free to either comment here or send me an email.