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Out of the Fire

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OUT OF THE FIRE

By 1900, Ransom E. Olds had developed eleven different prototypes of cars, and he couldn't commit himself to one idea. But in March of 1901, he had a catastrophe that turned out to be a blessing. Old's factory burned down, and all the prototypes went up in flames — except for one. This particular prototype was a low-cost model Olds had imagined could be sold to a much larger market. So, in the wake of the fire, Olds rushed the prototype into production. By 1905, he was selling 6,500 of his models a year. And, almost accidentally — out of the fire — Olds had designed the first mass-produced automobile in American history.

James Surowiecki, The wisdom of the Crowds. New York: Doubleday, 2004, pp. 23-24.

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