Antilock braking systems (ABS) for automobiles first entered Americans' public consciousness through advertising campaigns in the late 1980s and early 1990s. American television viewers were introduced to this new technology. Today's electronically controlled ABS is a good design. A good design is one that, once invented and introduced to the mass market, seems obvious: its function is easy to understand and it is socially desirable. These features are precisely what car companies wanted to sell to consumers. By the end of the 1980s manufacturers were sold on the idea, and ABS became a way to market their cars to consumers. This advertising gambit required a strategy that drew attention to ABS. Perhaps at their worst, such ad campaigns overshadow the complex, social activity that is engineering design, which may have real consequences in attracting the next generation of young engineers. The real history of ABS presents a much more engaging picture of how engineers really bring products to market.
The Culture of ABS Ann Johnson Mechanical Engineering; Sep 2010; 132, 9; Docstoc pg. 26 Reproduced with permi
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