Nikolaus Otto – Four Stroke Engine Inventor

Name: Nikolaus August Otto
Born: 10 June 1832 CE,
Holzhausen van der Haide
Died: 26 January 1891 CE (aged 58)
Nationality: German
Occupation: Inventor
Known for: Internal Combustion Engine

Nikolaus August Otto (10 June1832, Holzhausen an der Haide, Nassau – 26 January 1891, Cologne) was the German inventor of the first internal-combustion engine to efficiently burn fuel directly in a piston chamber. Though the concept of four strokes, with the vital compression of the mixture before ignition, had been invented and patented in 1861 by Alphonse Beau de Rochas, Otto was the first to make it practical.


The Otto engine was designed as a stationary engine and in the action of the engine, the stroke is an upward or downward movement of a piston in a cylinder. Used later in an adapted form as an automobile engine,
four strokes are involved:

  • downward intake stroke—coal-gas and air enter the piston chamber
  • upward compression stroke—the piston compresses the mixture
  • downward power stroke—ignites the fuel mixture by electric spark
  • upward exhaust stroke—releases exhaust gas from the piston chamber

Otto only sold his engine as a stationary motor.

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