The first traffic light was erected 101 years ago / DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/GettyImages

The first non-electric traffic light was unveiled outside Parliament

Waiting at the traffic lights is probably not a highlight of your day, but the humble road solution was quite a novelty when it was first used 101 years ago.

As Google celebrates the occasion with a Doodle on it's homepage, we chart the journey the traffic light took from blueprint to roads around the world.

Their dangerous cousins were first used in  London

The hand-powered predecessor to the electric traffic light was unveiled outside Parliament in 1868, so pedestrians could navigate the horse-drawn traffic.

Invented by railway engineer JP Knight, it featured moving arms, and gas-powered lamps in red and green for use at night time.

However, the development of this type of traffic light slowed after it exploded in Whitehall and killed a policeman.

Half a century later, an electric version was developed...

...but the inventor of the electric traffic light is disputed.

Some 44 years after traffic post was put up in Whitehall, Lester Wire, a police officer in Salt Lake City, Utah, attached wires to overhead trolley and light cables, and hung wooden box containing red and green lights from it.

However, an electric red-green system installed in Cleveland, Ohio on 5 August, 1914, is viewed as the first electric traffic signal, according to

It featured four pairs of red and green lights on top of a corner post, and worked via a manually operated switch inside a booth.

 “This system is, perhaps, destined to revolutionise the handling of traffic in congested city streets and should be seriously considered by traffic committees for general adoption,” read an article on the Cleveland traffic stop published in the August 1914 edition of The Motorist.

It wasn’t until four years later in 1918 that the three-coloured traffic stop was put to use in New York, according to The Guardian.

Others say inventor Garrett Morgan should be given credit for inventing the traffic signal, after he patented his T-shaped model in 1923.