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Nicolaus Otto

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Nicolaus OttoOne of the most important landmarks in engine design comes from Nicolaus Otto who in 1876 invented an effective gas motor engine. Nicolaus Otto built the first practical four-stroke internal combustion engine called the "Otto Cycle Engine," and when he completed his engine, he built it into a motorcycle.

Nicolaus Otto was born on June 14, 1832 in Holzhausen, Germany. Otto's first occupation was as a traveling salesman selling tea, coffee, and sugar. He soon developed an interest in the new technologies of the day and began experimenting with building four-stroke engines (inspired by Lenoir's two-stroke gas-driven internal combustion engine). After meeting Eugen Langen, a technician and owner of a sugar factory, Otto quit his job, and in 1864, the duo started the world's first engine manufacturing company N.A. Otto & Cie (now DEUTZ AG, Köln). In 1867, the pair were awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris World Exhibition for their atmospheric gas engine built a year earlier.

In May 1876, Nicolaus Otto built the first practical four-stroke piston cycle internal combustion engine. He continued to develop his four-stroke engine after 1876 and he considered his work finished after his invention of the first magneto ignition system for low voltage ignition in 1884. Otto's patent (see drawing below) was overturned in 1886 in favor of the patent granted to Alphonse Beau de Roaches for his four-stroke engine. However, Otto built a working engine while Roaches' design stayed on paper. On October 23, 1877, another patent for a gas-motor engine was issued to Nicolaus Otto, and Francis and William Crossley.

Nicolaus Otto died at age 59, on January 26, 1891, in Cologne.

Nicolaus Otto
Nicolaus Otto invented the gas motor engine. An engineer and experimenter, Nicolaus Otto invented the first practical alternative to the steam engine in 1876 -- the first four-stroke internal combustion engine. He called it the "Otto Cycle Engine," and as soon as he had completed his engine, he built it into a motorcycle.

Nicolaus Otto
The foundation of the modern engine

Nicholas Otto
Brief biography of Nicolaus Otto.

History of the Otto Langen Engine
Otto cycle
Motorcycles
Otto and his Choice of Fuels

patent for gas motor engine - Nicolaus Otto

©Mary Bellis

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