You can’t help but marvel at “how far we’ve come” when you think of how technology has evolved and how quickly things change (for instance, the term “smartphone” didn’t even exist until 1997). The same is completely true of technology in vehicles, and finding this video left us feeling a little nostalgic:
1979 Cadillac Trip Computer
Source: MrPitV, YouTube
The Cadillac Trip Computer “Tripmaster” was a unique optional feature available midyear during the 1978 and also the 1979 model years at a cost of US$920. This option replaced the two standard needle-type gauges with an electronic digital readout for the speedometer and remaining fuel. It also replaced the quartz digital clock with an LED display clock.
The trip computer also included numerous calculations at the touch of a button on a small panel located to the right of the steering wheel. These included miles to empty, miles per gallon, and a destination arrival time (which needed to be programmed by the driver, to estimate arrival time based on miles remaining).
Though preceded by the British 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda sedan, Seville was the first American automobile to offer full electronic instrumentation. This system predated Lincoln’s system by one year, although the 1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V was available with a “Miles-To-Empty” feature (i.e., an LED readout of miles left to travel based on the fuel remaining). A digital instrument cluster was not available on the Seville and Eldorado again until their 1981 through 1985 configurations, though the “Trip Computer” itself was no longer available.
The TripMaster provided us with some of the very same information we look for today – how much further will I need to drive to reach my destination? Do I have enough gas to get there? How much approximate time will it take me to get there? While it looks crude to us now, this technology set the pace and gave us a starting point for the wonderfully refined systems we have today, especially in the new 2013 CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system that are available in our 2013 Cadillac vehicles:
2013 Cadillac User Experience Navigation
Source: Cadillac, YouTube
Worlds apart, right? The execution and finishings have certainly come a long way in 34 years (and will only get further apart as the technology advances), but the basic ideas are the same: