After the discovery at Drake's Well, oil was mostly used for lubrication and lighting. What we think of as the automobile age actually took a long time to get started:
26 years to invent an internal combustion engine and a gas pump (1885) (Timeline is here.)
41 years until there were 14, 800 autos registered in the US and the first really huge oil well (Texas's Spindletop) came roaring out of the ground with a higher daily production than all US oil wells combined. (1901)
49 years until the first Model T. (1908)
54 years before you could drive your internal combustion engine into the first gas station. (1913)
61 years until there were 8.5 million cars registered in the US. (1920)
The business and regulatory model seems to have developed a little bit faster.
11 years for Rockefeller to devise a business model that disciplined the cycles of boom and bust into a monopoly. (1870)
42 years before Ida Tarbell began exposing the model in McClure's magazine (1902), leading to the ultimate break up of Standard Oil into 37 companies 50 years after the discovery. (1909)
Now taking bets:
How long to until there are a million non-gasoline cars on the road?
How long until we've cut oil consumption by 33 percent?
How long until a radical, scandalous post-oil business model emerges?
How long until we regulate it?
(Photo: Flickr User sara.atkins)
Thanks to Branko Terzic for "Gas Gas" and translation.