Nikolaus A. Otto

Inducted 1996

Developed the 2-stroke engine, in partnership with Eugen Langen, that won the Gold Medal at the 1867 Paris Exposition

Founded Otto & Cie. in 1863 – now known as Klocker-Humboldt-Deutz, the world’s oldest manufacturer of internal combustion engines

Built and patented the 4-stroke engine in 1877

The automobile was only a distant dream when self-taught engineer Nikolaus Otto developed the engine that eventually made cars a reality. As a boy in Germany, Otto showed engineering promise, but his widowed mother was unable to afford a technicial education. Following his natural talent, Otto became intrigued with the existing Lenoir 2-stroke engine and began experimenting with it. Otto’s ideas attracted the attention of Eugen Langen and the two formed the company, Otto & Cie. With Otto providing technological innovation and Langen acting as business manager, they produced their award-winning 2-stroke engine. Otto then developed and patented a 4-stroke engine that became known for its reliability, efficiency and quietness. Some 30,000 of these “Silent Otto” engines were produced by 1886. In addition to inspiring colleagues Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, Otto’s ingenuity and drive set a new standard that automotive designers and builders around the globe attempted to match.

Expand to
read more

Class of 1996

Sign up for our mailing list