Before you read this post, what do you think changed with the dimmer switch? Was it a change in performance, size, location or something else?
If you said size and location, you would be right! For us Baby Boomers, you know the location of the dimmer switch changed from the floor to the stalk, or steering column, but may not be aware that size changed as well. Here are a few more details about the history of this switch.
In 1925, the dimmer switch was located on the steering column. This changed in 1927, when it was moved to the floor. Why did the location of the dimmer switch change? The automobile makers decided it was too much of a distraction on the steering column and agreed to move it to the floor.
The floorboard area was wide open, perfect for the floor-mounted switches, as they could also be made larger and more durable. Car owners would enjoy the floor-mounted switch for the next 50 years.
However, not all vehicles made the transition at the same time. When a major re-design of a vehicle was done, then the dimmer switch changed as well. Generally, the switch function would go to the stalk when a model went from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive (which happened a lot in the late 1970s and early 1980s) because the foot-well area became smaller, leaving less space for owners’ feet.
Today all of the controls we need to drive are now on the directional stalk–wipers, headlights, cruise control, etc. I don’t see this changing as driver’s have shown that it is not too distracting to have so many controls on the steering column.