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Out of the Fire

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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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