Fill in the gaps with a siuitable word, e.g. a noun, adjective, preposition, adverb, etc.
The Invention of the Bicycle
You 0) ________________ think that an invention as simple as the bicycle would have an uncomplicated past. But as it turns 1) __________, this highly popular invention has a history fraught with controversy and misinformation. While stories about who invented the bicycle often contradict one 2) __________, there’s one thing that’s certain — the very first bicycles were 3) __________ like the ones you see cruising down the street today.
The first known iterations of a wheeled, human-powered vehicle were created 4) __________ before the bicycle became a practical form of transportation. In 1418, an Italian engineer, Giovanni de la Fontana, constructed a human-powered device 5) __________ of four wheels and a loop of rope connected by gears.
In 1813, about 400 years after Fontana built his wheeled contraption, a German aristocrat and inventor named Karl Drais began work on his 6) __________ version of a four-wheeled, human-powered vehicle. Then in 1817, Drais debuted a two-wheeled vehicle, 7) __________ by many names throughout Europe, including Draisine, running machine and hobby horse.
While Drais’ invention was viewed by his contemporaries 8) __________ a curiosity, not a method of transportation, the hobby horse was actually built to solve a very serious problem — a dearth of real horses. Bad harvests and a series of natural disasters occurring in the early 1810s 9) __________ in mass starvation and the slaughtering of thousands of horses. Drais’ hobby horse was created as an alternative 10) __________ transportation on horseback.
However, Drais’ hobby horses were a far cry from the aerodynamic speed machines that are today’s bicycles. Weighing in at 50 pounds, this bicycle ancestor featured two wooden wheels attached to a wooden frame. Riders sat on an upholstered leather saddle nailed to the frame and steered the vehicle with a rudimentary set of wooden handlebars. There were no gears and no pedals, as riders simply pushed the device 11) __________ with their feet.
Drais’ invention was eventually copied and reproduced by a British coach-maker named Denis Johnson, who marketed his “pedestrian curricles” to London’s pleasure-seeking aristocrats. Hobby horses enjoyed several years of limited success 12) __________ they were banned from sidewalks the world over as a danger to pedestrians.
 Dearth: inadequate supply; scarcity; lack.
- NOT / LITTLE
- LONG / MUCH
- BEFORE / UNTIL