In 1893, the first running, gasoline-powered American car was built and road-tested by the Duryea brothers of Springfield, Massachusetts. The first public run of the Duryea Motor Wagon took place on 21 September 1893, on Taylor Street in Metro Center Springfield.*
In 1903, New York City issues the first chauffeur badge, requiring licensing of operators
In 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model-T and automobile ownership skyrocketed. So did the problems of accidents and deciding who should be allowed to operate them. In 1910, New York issued the first license. It was chauffeurs only, as automobiles were the privilege of the wealthy, who often didn’t actually know how to operate them.
In 1918, licenses were offered for all drivers. In 1924, a license became a requirement for all drivers, not just chauffeurs
By 1940, photos had been removed.
It’s 1968, and computerization removes handwriting
1984, the first color photo was added to stop the rise in counterfeiting as the national drinking age was raised to 21
2005 brought a harder-to-forge background
2013 – The newest licenses, made of polycarbonate materials, are laser engraved, not printed, and feature a pair of black-and-white portraits that help make the licenses more difficult to counterfeit.
Read the full piece from the New York Times