The first gasoline pump is built, by Sylvanus Bowser of Fort Wayne, Ind., and delivered to Jake Gumper, also of Fort Wayne, on Sept. 5, 1885.
The automobile hadn't been invented yet; gasoline was a byproduct of refining kerosene for household stoves and lamps.
Bowser's pump featured a wooden storage barrel, marble valves, a wooden plunger, a hand lever and an upright faucet lever. Bowser formed S.F. Bowser Co. and patented the pump in 1887.
American motorists have been able to pump their own gasoline at filling stations since 1905, but those were little more than a pump at the curbside. Before the early 1900s, motorists bought gasoline in cans from pharmacies, blacksmiths and other retail posts to fill up themselves.
But spillage and fire safety was a constant concern.
In 1905, Bowser came up with a big improvement. He enclosed a square, metal tank in a wooden cabinet equipped with a forced-suction pump. A hand-stroke lever pumped the gas. The pump featured air vents for safety, stops that users could set to deliver a predetermined quantity and a hose to dispense the gasoline directly into the vehicle's tank. It became the Bowser Self-Measuring Gasoline Storage Pump.
The word bowser became a generic term for a vertical gasoline pump. The word is no longer used in the U.S., but it still pops up in Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Canada.