Park-O-Meter is a parking meter production company headquartered in Russellville (Pope County). The predecessor company to the current Park-O-Meter, Inc. (or POM) was co-founded by Carl Magee, designer of the world’s first parking meter.
Carl Magee was an attorney and newspaper editor who joined the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce traffic committee in 1933 and, shortly thereafter, was charged with lessening the escalating traffic congestion in the city’s downtown. Local merchants complained that their sales were hurt by low traffic turnover, since parking spaces adjacent to downtown businesses were occupied by the same cars all day. Magee conceived the idea of a coin-operated timer that could be used to increase traffic turnover in busy commercial thoroughfares, and he sponsored a contest at the University of Oklahoma to develop such a device. After the contest, Magee designed and patented his own model and sought Professors H. G. Thuesen and Gerald Hale from Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University) to help him develop his model into an operating meter. The first model eventually created was powered by a clock-type mainspring, which required subsequent winding; this was accomplished by parking patrons after feeding coins into the meter. Magee later partnered with Gerald Hale to form the Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter Company, predecessor to the modern POM, Inc.
The first parking meters were installed in downtown Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935, and charged five cents per hour. Businesses benefited greatly from the decreased parking congestion, but some outraged citizens complained and even initiated legal action in response to installation of the meters. Legal action failed to halt implementation of the meters, however, and the added benefits of revenue generation quickly led other cities to install parking meters of their own.
The earliest Magee-Hale meters were manufactured in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, by Rockwell International, which moved its meter production to Russellville in 1963. POM, Inc., as constituted today was organized in 1976 to purchase the parking meter production operations from Rockwell, as well as its Russellville plant.
New ownership and production facility expansion occurred at POM in the 1980s, and POM unveiled its patented “Advanced Parking Meter” (APM) in 1992, featuring a choice of battery or solar power, among other improvements. According to its website, the company today “has the largest plant in the world devoted to the manufacturing of digital parking meters.”
For additional information:
Crossen, Cynthia. “When Parallel Parking Was New and Meters Seemed Un-American.” Wall Street Journal. July 30, 2007. Online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118574808780081653.html (accessed March 9, 2022).
POM, Inc. http://www.pom.com/ (accessed March 9, 2022).
The History Channel’s History’s Lost and Found: The First Parking Meter documents the role of the two Oklahoma State University professors, Holger George Thuesen and Gerald Hale, who designed and built the Black Maria, the world’s first working parking meter, at the request of Carl Magee. This video can be viewed on YouTube.
For further information about this subject, see the Chronicles of Oklahoma, (Summer 1969) Volume XLVII, Number 2, “Oklahoma and the Parking Meter.”
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