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The first car was created and it was good. A few days later, it broke down. That was bad. This led, of course, to the creation of the first mechanic.
From the time German Engineer, Karl Benz, invented the first practical automobile to use an internal combustion engine, there has been a need for mechanics. A mechanic is defined as someone who provides repairs or maintenance to a machine. Benz’s made his first auto in 1885 and the history of the auto mechanic begins there for all practical purposes. Machines will break and they will do so even faster without care. Mechanics have always been with us and they have always repaired the engines we have used to help us with our work.
Automobiles were something totally different right from the start and the early mechanics were the same ones who had been repairing the horse drawn vehicles that they replaced. It did not take long for this to change. The automobile engine was something new and much more complex than the simple wagons and carriages. As automobiles quickly began to spread out, mechanics began to specialize in their repair and maintenance.
An example of how rapid this spread was can be seen in the fact that auto mechanics formed a union in Seattle, Washington in 1917. A year later, this union had 250 members, but in just two year’s time, 1920, membership had grown to 500. Although auto mechanic unions never really caught on in the same way they did in the trucking or construction trades, these figures show how quickly the field of auto mechanics was growing.
The history of auto mechanics has followed the history of the automobile since these early days in the area of increased technology also. As automobiles became more complex, the need for mechanics grew. In the 1940′s and 1950′s, whole generations of American boys grew up tinkering with automobiles. It was like a rite of passage for several generations. A young man learned to care for his vehicle and many fell in love with them. This kept producing more and more mechanics, while at the same time holding back the field somewhat as do it yourself maintenance and repair were so common.
In the modern area, the automobile has become increasingly difficult to repair without expensive equipment and technical knowledge. The computer and electronic driven elements of the vehicles have changed the nature of the automobile mechanic. This is reflected in the fact the term, Auto Technician, has largely replaced auto mechanic in most shops. Although this might seem to be just words, it does actually show how the field of auto mechanics has evolved from its early days where the majority of the work could be done with a wrench and most teenage boys could make a broken car run without much trouble.