First time riding in a car with cruise control

I’ve seen some amazing things be invented and deployed over my 50+ years of life on this marble. Sometimes it is humbling remembering what life was like just a few decades ago. Living without air conditioning, the time that my parents walked through the door with a counter top microwave oven, and then there was the time that my father and I drove in a car with cruise control for the very first time.

My Aunt Karen and her husband DJ had stopped by at our house in Mequon Wisconsin. If I remember correctly we needed to run to the store to pick something up, but they were parked behind our cars. They let us take their Thunderbird car. It was a way more sporty car than I had ever driven in before and my father and I ran our errand.

What I remember is the trip back to our house. There was a “dead” part of our neighborhood where they had put in the streets, but hadn’t begun building houses yet. These were lightly traveled, empty streets with straight roads. My father pointed out that the car had cruise control and wanted to try it out. We came to a stop on the road. We tried to figure out the controls, how to turn it on, how to turn it off, how to speed up and how to slow down.

So we stared creeping forward. We couldn’t get it to turn on. I think that cruise control needed at least 25 miles per hour to be engaged. We fiddled with it and we barely got it to work before we got back to our house.

It was just a taste of what was coming in the future. It is such a small feature of a car now. It’s assumed that the car will have it. Even the cheapest of cars has cruise control. But way back then, (early 80’s?) it was groundbreaking. I haven’t thought about that moment in a long while. What amazing technologies will the future hold?