Gas Pump History

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In the 1900s-1910s the gas pumps were hand pumps where you had to have a great deal of arm strength, not only to pump your gas, but also start your car!
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In the 1920s the “visible” gas pumps were created.These were very TALL pumps. The amount of gas was selected and would fill a transparent glass tank at the top of the pump so the customer could “see” the quality of the fuel and the color of the fuel. Fuels were colored different colors to indicate the grade of the gasoline and to avoid the dangers of using the wrong fuels for cleaning purposes. The colored fuel allowed for yet another method of branding for customer loyalty to specific oil companies. Creating customer perception of quality was crucial for the expansion of oil companies, so marketing of the superiority of products was extensive. Names such as “superior” and “marvel”, “super” and “best”, “mighty” and “deluxe”. Glass bowls were affixed to the the top and lit up, advertising the brand.
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Visible Gas Pumps
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1930s still had the bowl at the top of the pump, but the "visible" glass tank was gone. Now, the measuring method was the “clock face” scale that would weigh the amount of liquid.The use of iconography and distinctive graphics became the mode to entice belief in quality and branding. Some customers would only go to X type of gas station due to the cleanliness of the restrooms, Gilmore gas was famous for having the cleanest restrooms in the industry on the west coast. Others would go to Y gas stations because of customer loyalty that had been developed when they were children, gas stations often had toys, coloring books, games and other giveaways to create branding with children.

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The 1940s introduced the first iteration of the shape of pumps we are more familiar with, simple rectangular posts, however several versions still have the globes on top as they were more eye catching that way and again, allowed for brand recognition. These were called the calculator pumps due to the rolling numbers.
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The 1950s ushered in the current era of gas pumps, shorter, stockier pumps with the rolling numbers to indicate the amount of gas being pumped.
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The pumps of the 60s and 70s were minor modifications of the prior models, becoming more squat and the rolling numbers eventually being replaced by digital displays.

Side note about oil, and how you put it in your car…

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We are familiar with the convenient oil can or quart sized bottle we easily pour into our automobiles. Life was not always so convenient! It used to be old was held in a large container and had to be pumped into glass quart size bottles to pour the oil into your car. A lot of manual labor was involved in your car use.