Friday, October 27, 2006

1847 Segway Spotted in Red Hook


In our travels through Red Hook, Brooklyn recently, we discovered this extremely rare early-model Segway Personal Transporter. Based on a strong, yet lightweight whiskey barrel chassis, this this wooden-wheeled wonder predates Dean Kamen's largely overhyped Segway PT by over 150 years.

A close inspection revealed that this model, officially sold as the Segway Super Cooper, featured orange naugahyde upholstery, secured with bronze nails - an apparent nod to fashion-conscious pirates of the day. And eagle-eyed technology buffs will notice that the Plantation-era Segway came complete with a functioning ice bucket - a comfort feature Kamen has yet to incorporate in his stripped-down imitations.

The Segway SC was also environmentally-friendly: operating on human power, the unit required only that the operator eat food and occasionally sleep to keep it running, and all of its components (save the naugahyde and metal parts) were completely biodegradable. Its one shortcoming, according to Segway historian J.T. Vintette, was a vulnerability to a hardware bug common in its day: termites.