Otto, Nikolaus August

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b. 10 June 1832 Holzhausen, Nassau (now in Germany)
d. 26 January 1891 Cologne, Germany
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German engineer, developer of the four-stroke internal combustion engine.
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Otto's involvement in internal combustion engines was first prompted by his interest in Lenoir's coal-gas engine of 1860. He built his first engine in 1861; in 1864, Otto's engine came to the attention of Eugen Langen, who arranged for the capital to set up the world's first engine company, N.A.Otto and Company, in Cologne. In 1867 the Otto- Langen free-piston internal combustion engine was exhibited at the Paris Exposition, where it won the gold medal. The company continued to expand, and five years after the Paris triumph its name was changed to the Gasmotoren Fabrik; amongst Otto's colleagues at this time were Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach .
Otto is most famous for the development of the four-stroke cycle which was to bear his name. He patented his version of this in 1876, although the principle of the four-stroke cycle had been patented by Alphonse Beau de Rochas fourteen years previously; Otto was the first, however, to put the principle into practice with the "Otto Silent Engine". Many thousands of Otto fourstroke engines had already been built by 1886, when a German patent lawyer successfully claimed that Otto had infringed the Beau de Rochas patent, and Otto's patent was declared invalid.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Médaille d'or, Paris Exposition 1867 (for the Otto-Langen engine).
Further Reading
1989, History of the Internal Combustion Engine, Detroit: Society of Automotive Engineers.
I.McNeil (ed.), 1990, An Encyclopaedia of the History of Technology, London and New York: Routledge, 306–7.
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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