Description: Inventor of the four-stroke principle or Otto-Engine, which was named after him. His engine with compressed charge, conceived in 1861 and built in 1876, marked the aera of pioneering and formed the foundation for the Internal Combustion Engine.
Born on 14th June 1832 in Holzhausen, Germany, Otto had a business training and became a travelling salesman in Cologne in 1853. He soon took an interest in engine technology to power horse-drawn carriages and small factories.
In 1862 he conducted his first tests with a four-stroke engine, but these did not bring the desired results due to the explosive nature of the combustion. However, after Otto met Eugen Langen, a technician and prorietor of sugar factory, he gave up his profession as travelling salesman, and in 1864 they established N.A. Otto + Cie., the first engine company in the world, today´s DEUTZ AG, Köln.
At the 1867 World Exhibition in Paris one of the atmospheric gas engines developed by Otto and Langen was awarded the Gold Medal for the most economical power for small business. Despite the ensuing technical and financial successes Otto kept trying to perfect his earlier idea of a four-stroke engine. This high-compression engine was a technical innovation suitable for all types of fuel and applications and capable of further development. From this early achievment in Cologne modern engine technology has spread world-wide.
In 1882 N.A. Otto was honoured by University of Würzburg which presented him, together with Bell, the inventor of the telephone, with an honorary doctorate.
With the additional development of the first magneto ignition system for low voltage ignition in 1884, Otto consluded his work on the technical development of his engine.
He died, aged 59, on 26th January 1891 in Cologne.
Elected into the Automotive Hall of Fame 1996