Tuesday Open Line

The nation’s love affair with automobiles is generations old. Our devotion can be traced down through the decades by looking at advertising, as cars progressed from romantic if noisy new playthings to a near necessity in our vast country. The first known national ad promoting a car appeared at the end of July 1898 in the Scientific American magazine. It was for the now forgotten Winton Motor Carriage with the headline “dispense with a horse.” Americans did just that, and competing car companies increased spending on advertising. By 1906, 57 car companies spent over a half-million dollars advertising in 12 national magazines. Today, touting cars and trucks are a major part of the more than $111 billion spent last year at advertising’s 13,101 establishments. Profile America is in its 19th  year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.