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Škoda car factory The company that later became the modern Škoda works in Mladá Boleslav was founded by the mechanic Václav Laurin and bookseller Václav Klement. They started out in 1895 with a bicycle repair and production business. In 1898 Klement brought with him from Paris a velocipede, which had a small motor attached to the front wheel. According to contemporary reports, the contraption was ‘wobbly, unreliable and hard to control’. A skilled mechanic, Klement made some improvements to the machine and, within a year, Mladá Boleslav saw the production of probably the first practically usable means of transport in Europe – the Slavia type A ‘motorised bicycle’, with a motor attached to the rear wheel and all steering elements on the handlebars. Naturally Laurin, a highly competent businessman, was soon able to sell these bicycles, to great effect. The company subsequently expanded production to include motorcycles and, in 1906, automobiles. It was at this time that they presented the Voiturette A at a Prague automobile show. While this vehicle bore more resemblance to a carriage with a motor attached, it was, in fact, the direct ancestor of modern Škodas. This vehicle can now be viewed in the Škoda Auto Museum in Mladá Boleslav, the company’s present to itself the celebrate the centenary of its founding. Baťa company The city of Zlín, which is located in the region of Central Moravia, is nowadays inherently linked to the name Tomáš Baťa, whose footwear company nowadays provides the whole world with shoes. The swift rise of his company laid the foundations for spectacular development of the city and imprinted it with a unique character. Experience the remarkable atmosphere of the city with its well preserved Functionalist architecture. Zlín is dominated by the so-called Baťa Skyscraper, which was the second highest building in Europe when it was built.The calm development of the city gained a new impulse during the industrial revolution and later, above all thanks to the businessman Tomáš Baťa. Baťa was born into the family of a poor cobbler. In 1894, he founded his own shoemaking company and began to make shoes under his own name. Instead of expensive leather, he began to use canvas, so almost everybody could afford to buy “Baťovky” shoes and sales increased. After returning from the USA, he built the first modern factory in Zlín in 1900 and installed state-of-the-art shoe-making machines. Over the course of a few years and thanks to his conscientious work, he managed to establish a complete shoe-making empire, which expanded as far as India and Brazil. Thirty or so other towns sprung up around Baťa’s factories the world over.