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Traffic Signs, An Evolution of Road Signs from 1925 to Present

 
1920 Road Signs
1920
New York City's Deputy Chief Inspector of Police proposes a universal system of arrow-shaped road signs, reflecting a mounting concern around the country for road sign standards and their impact on road safety.
 
 
 
1920
 
1927
1927
The first transatlantic telephone call is made from New York to London.
 
 
 
1927
 
1939
1939
Harry Heltzer designs the first retroreflective tape, using small glass beads to increase the reflectivity of the center striping on highways at night.

When he couldn't make his reflective tape stick to the road in cold weather, he adapted it to be used on road signs. On September 1, the first sign with 3M ScotchliteTM Reflective sheeting was erected on a Minneapolis street.
 
 
 
1939
 
1940
1940
The United States' first freeway, the Arroyo Seco, is built, connecting downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena. The limited access and toll-free highway is now known as Highway 110.
 
 
 
1940
 
1944
1944
3M researchers develop new beads that reflect more light and are more weather resistant. These beads are still used today in reflective fabric and bicycle tires.
 
 
 
1944
 
1945
1945
ENIAC, the first all-purpose, all-electronic digital computer, is developed. Filling an entire room, the ENIAC was the father of modern computer technology.
 
 
 
1945
 
1946
1946
CenterLite pavement marking material is introduced.
 
 
 
1946
 
Reflective Road Sign from 1947
1947
Prismo Safety Corporation develops the Prismo Life-Line, the most reflective and longest lasting highway center line available on the market.
 
 
 
1947
 
1948
1948
Engineer Grade sheeting is produced at the 3M Cottage Grove facility, making it possible to apply lettering and weather-resistant transparent inks to reflective signs.
 
 
 
1948
 
Stop Sign from 1947
1954
Sales of 3M Engineer Grade Reflective Sheeting soar, and a new plant in Guin Alabama is built to manufacture 3M Reflective Sheeting. In later years, additional plants were built worldwide.
 
 
 
1954
 
1956
1956
President Eisenhower signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act, further funding the interstate program. The act effectively rejuvenates the interstate system, which was recovering from the debilitating effects of the Great Depression and World War II.
 
  1956
1956
Highway engineers, working to expand the interstate system, haphazardly design the font Highway Gothic to be used as the standard font for signs across the country.
 
 
 
1956
 
1958
1958
The laser is invented. In addition to increasing the opportunities for barcode use, the laser has made significant contributions to nearly every industry, from medical to manufacturing.
 
 
 
1958
 
1960
1960
GreenLite pavement marking material is introduced.
 
 
 
1960
 
1964
1964
All four major US automobile manufacturers agree to make dual front-seat belts standard equipment.
 
 
 
1964
 
1965
1965
Scotch-Lane reflective and non-reflective pavement marking materials and application equipment are introduced.
 
 
 
1965
 
1966
1966
The Department of Transportation is established, providing quick and accessible transportation for the growing nation.
 
 
 
1966
 
1970
1970
A new, whiter glass bead is developed, which can be made with 30% less energy.
 
 
 
1970
 
1971
1971
3M High Intensity Grade Reflective Sheeting sets a new standard with increased durability and three times the brightness of previous sheeting.
 
 
 
1971
 
1973
1973
The first call from a cellular phone is made. While cell phones were not available to consumers until 1983, the first call made headlines and shocked people around the country. By 1999, there were an astonishing 86.1 million subscribers to cell phone services.
 
 
 
1973
 
1976
1976
Stamark Pavement Markings set the standard in pavement markings, achieving significantly higher levels of brightness and durability.
 
 
 
1976
 
1980
1980
3M develops and markets a full line of reflective signs and pavement marking products for the work zone.
 
 
 
1980
 
1986
1986
Stamark patterned pavement marking tape is introduced.
 
  Yield Sign from 1986
1986
Raised pavement markings are introduced.
 
 
 
1986
 
1988 Reflective Traffic Sign
1988
Market testing for 3M Diamond Grade Reflective Sheeting begins. Its microcube corners reflect a significantly higher percentage of light than previous reflective sheeting.
 
 
 
1988
 
3M Fluorescent Reflective Work Zone Sign
1989
Durable Fluorescent technology is introduced, using fluorescent orange in work zones.
 
 
 
1989
 
3M Durable Fluorescent Yellow Crossing Sign
1992
3M introduces Durable fluorescent yellow green non-motorized crossing signs.
 
 
 
1992
 
Reflective Stop Signs from 1993
1993
The United States Congress passes legislation that proposes establishing a "standard for the minimum level of retroreflectivity that must be maintained for traffic signs and pavement markings."
 
  1993
1993
Global Positioning Systems (GPS's) are invented, allowing a person to pinpoint his or her exact location on earth via a network of orbiting satellites.
 
 
 
1993
 
Reflective Car Sign from 1994
1994
3M introduces Diamond Grade Visual Impact Performance (VIP) sheeting; the industries only type IV reflective sheeting.
 
 
 
1994
 
1999
1999
New, highly-reflective microcrystalline ceramic beads are used in highway marking paint, making it three times brighter than conventional markings.
 
 
 
1999
 
Clearview Traffic Sign from Don Meeker
2004
The Federal Highway Administration grants Clearview, a newly designed font, approval to be used on road signs across the country. Tests of Clearview (on the left) show enhanced legibility.
 
 
 
2004
 
2008
2008
The Federal Highway Administration's Minimum Levels of Retroreflectivity for traffic signs goes into effect, giving agencies seven years to replace regulatory, warning, and ground-mounted sings, and ten years to replace street name signs and overhead signs. Standards specify that parking signs, in almost all cases, must be reflective.
 
 
 
2008
 
2010
2010
Updated RoadTrafficSigns.com is launched. It is the first completely searchable and comprehensive database of Road signs that can be ordered online by municipal, governmental and private property customers. Find over 5,000 different designs and materials.
 
 
 
2010