Hybrid car history goes back to over a hundred years ago - long before Honda's Insight hit the U.S. market in 1999. What we now call "alternative" power was all there was in the early days of automobiles. Let's take a fun little journey back through the highlights of hybrid car history. In 1898, a young German engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, combined a gas engine with an electric motor, designing the first "hybrid" car. But, by the beginning of the 20th century, steam powered cars were all the rage. They were the fastest on the road, reaching a speed of 197 mph at the annual automobile speed trials in 1907. Electric cars were also popular. They were clean, quiet, but very slow, and thought of only as cars for women to run errands. Gas cars were the least popular of all, considered to be noisy, dirty and prone to shake, rattle and roll. Henry Ford introducing the Model T in 1908, but a gas car didn't break the Stanley Steamer's world record for speed until 1927. Even so, it was Henry Ford who revolutionized the automobile industry. Ford's breakthrough assembly line was able to accomplish what no other carmaker had done - mass produce cars at a price the average person could afford. And gasoline driven cars have dominated automobile history for a hundred years. By 1913, with the introduction of the self-starting gas engine, nearly 183,000 Ford Model Ts drove off the assembly line, compared with only 6,000 electric cars. Ford Motors and gas powered cars were now king. For the next 50 years of history, alternative energy automobiles, such as the hybrid car, were just hobbies for amateur backyard tinkers or small, unsuccessful business ventures of a few entrepreneurs. But, during the sixties, concern for the environment became the rallying cry of a growing numbers of people. Eliminating air pollution was their first priority and gas powered cars were a main target. In 1966, Congress introduced the first bill recommending electric cars as a way to reduce pollution. However it wasn't until gasoline prices skyrocketed during the Arab oil embargo in 1973 that interest was renewed in the hybrid car. But history saw 24 years pass before hybrid cars went into enough production to be sold to the public. In 1997 Toyota's Prius was introduced in Japan and Audi's Duo in Europe. The Duo was soon dropped, while European carmakers focused on developing a better diesel engine. The Toyota Prius, on the other hand, was a commercial success. Introduced in the U.S. in 2000, the Prius has won numerous accolades, including being named the 2004 Car of the Year by Motor Trends Magazine. Buyers for the 2004 Prius had to wait six months. U.S. Toyota President, Jim Press, called it "the hottest car we've ever had." Hybrid cars are now an important segment of the auto industry and it looks like they're going to get even stronger. Toyota and Honda, the first hybrids on the market, are now getting competition from Suzuki, Ford, Chevy, GMC, Mercury and Lexus, with others on the drawing board.