Automobile speedometers appeared at the turn of the century and although many were at first similar in design to clocks, they soon developed their own pattern as a result of greater understanding of drivers’ needs, speed limits, the practicalities of fitting the dial onto the dashboard, style preferences and changes in technology. In developing dials, designers have experimented with different positions of reference points; dial shapes; analogue and digital read-outs; the number and shapes of scale marks; multiple and reconfigurable scales; increments, style and placement of numbers; needle designs; moving versus stationary scales; and colours.
The researcher selected examples based upon their historical significance and differences between dials. The collection consists of computer drawn examples of circular dials from as early as 1904 through to 2007, linear dials from the 1950s through I970s. The collection also includes a taxonomy of analogue dial features which include dial shapes, reference point placements, scales, scale marks, fonts, number placements, and needles.