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Nicolaus A. Otto

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Nicolaus August Otto (June 14, 1832 – January 26, 1891)[1] was a pioneer in engine design, but was never directly involved in automobile manufacturing.

He, along with his business partner Eugene Langen founded the world’s first engine manufacturing company: NA Otto & Cie (later became Deutz AG).

[edit] History

Nicolaus August Otto was born on June 14, 1832 in Holzhausen, Germany. At an early age he had an aptitude and interest in technical design. In fact, his mother was pushing him towards a technical career, but after the failure of the German Revolution and the decline in the economy she changed her mind and began pushing him to become a merchant. So, Nicolaus quit high school and got a job in a grocery store. His brother Wilhelm eventually got him a job as a salesman for tea, sugar and kitchenware.

Still, Nicolaus remained interested in new technologies. Inspired by the work of French engine inventor Jean-Joseph Etienne Lenoir, he began experimenting with building four-stroke engines.

He was working as a salesman when he met Eugene Langen, a technician and owner of a sugar factory. In 1864 Nicolaus quit his job as a salesman and teamed-up with Langen to establish the world’s first engine manufacturing company: NA Otto & Cie (later became [[Deutz AG). Three years later the duo was awarded for its engine designs at the Paris World Exhibition—specifically they were awarded a Gold Medal for their atmospheric gas engine.

Almost a decade later, in May of 1876, Otto built the first practical high-compression, four-stroke internal combustion engine with an ignition device. It was called the “Otto Cycle Engine.”[2]

On October 23, 1877 Otto was granted a patent for a gas-motor engine.

The US Patent Office granted Otto a patent for an “improvement in gas-motor engines” on August 14, 1877.[3]

Otto continued to develop engines for approximately another seven years. In 1884 Otto considered his work finished after inventing the first magneto ignition system for low voltage ignition. However, Otto’s patent for the invention was eventually overturned in favor of another engine designer, Alphonse Beau de Roaches, even though Otto’s was a working model while Roaches’ design was only on paper.

More than 30,000 four-stroke Otto engines were built before 1886.[4]

Nicolaus Otto died on January 26, 1891 in Cologne, Germany.[5]

[edit] Otto Cycle Engine – How it works

  • First stroke – the piston draws in an explosive mixture of fuel and air
  • Second stroke – the mixture is compressed
  • Third stroke – the ignition explodes a charge and the resulting expansion drives the pistons third stroke
  • Fourth stroke – exhaust the burnt gases to clear the cylinder to start the cycle over again

[edit] References

  1. Inventors: Nicolaus Otto. About.com, 2010-02-24.
  2. Inventors: Nicolaus Otto. About.com, 2010-02-24.
  3. Aug. 14, 1877: Internal Combustion’s Stroke of Genius. Wired Magazine, 2010-02-24.
  4. Nicolaus August Otto. Answers.com, 2010-02-24.
  5. Inventors: Nicolaus Otto. About.com, 2010-02-24.