In 1818, Baron Karl von Drais of Baden, Germany was looking for a substitute for the horses that had starved to death in the recent volcanic winter, caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. He came up with the "Draisine", a 'running machine' consisting of two in-line wheels beneath a seat and handlebars. It was propelled by the rider pushing off the ground with his feet.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
The draisine pictured above was built circa 1818 and was donated to the Smithsonian in 1964.