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Breakthrough with Prof. MK Othman: Recognising the First Generation Inventors V


Karl Benz

Automobile is the next interesting invention in the transportation sector, which came earlier than the invention of the airplane. The history of the automobile invention is a rich one and may date back to the 15th century when Leonardo da Vinci was creating designs and models for transport vehicles.
There are many different types of automobiles – steam, electric, and gasoline – as well as many other classifications. Reporting exactly who was the first inventor of the automobile is difficult to credit one single individual.
However, Mr. Karl Benz, a German national was reputed to be among the first inventors of the self-propelled automobile popularly known as “motor vehicle”.
Karl Benz was able to patent a three-wheeled Motor Car, known as the “Motorwagen,” in 1885. It was the first true, modern automobile. Benz also patented his own throttle system, spark plugs, gear shifters, a water radiator, a carburetor and other fundamental components of the automobile. Benz eventually built a car company that still exists today as the Daimler Group.
Reflecting the trend of events, which metamorphosed from a mere conception of the automobile to the reality, we can begin with Leonardo da Vinci’s Car invention, which was invented in 1495.
It was seen as the first automobile in two categories; it was the first self-propelled vehicle in history and the first programmable machine that can move.
However, strictly speaking, Leo’s automobile was not exactly a car compared to the present day reality, as it had no seats for a passenger or a driver. Although, it was a well-designed machine.
In fact, it was so well designed; it took many centuries for a machine-tooling laboratory to successfully build the complex gear systems inside the car.
Leonardo’s Car was spring driven so it had to be wound up before it could move. It was also programmable – pegs were put into small holes to direct the wheels of the car to turn at certain points in time during the journey. Complex gearing and cog assemblies controlled it all internally.
It was certainly an extreme ingenuity of mankind and exceptional capability displayed by Leonardo da Vinci for designing such a piece in such a time under such a condition.
Somewhere in Asia, precisely in China, Ferdinand Verbiest, a member of a Jesuit mission in China, built a steam-powered vehicle around 1672 as a toy for the Chinese Emperor. It was a small size car and could not carry a driver but it was, quite possibly, the first working steam-powered vehicle produced in history.
A steam-powered self-propelled vehicle large enough to transport people and cargo was first developed in the late 18th century. Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot demonstrated his fardier à vapeur (“steam dray”), an experimental steam-driven artillery tractor, in 1770 and 1771.
As Cugnot’s design proved to be impractical, his invention was not developed in his native France but in Great Britain. By 1784, William Murdoch had built a working model of a steam carriage in Redruth and in 1801 Richard Trevithick was running a full-sized vehicle on the roads in Camborne. The first automobile patent in the United States was granted to Oliver Evans in 1789.
In 1807 François Isaac de Rivaz was the first to design an internal combustion engine car powered by hydrogen gas as fuel. He started by inventing a stationary engine suitable to work as a pump in 1804, de Rivaz progressed to a small experimental vehicle built, which was the first wheeled vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine.
In subsequent years de Rivaz developed his design, and in 1813 built a larger 6-meter long vehicle, weighing almost a 1000 kg (a ton). On 30 January 1807 Isaac de Rivaz was granted patent No. 731 in Paris, France.
In 1870 in Europe, Siegfried Marcus made a significant achievement in the automobile industry. Marcus was born in Malchin, which was then part of Germany into a Jewish family.
He began work at the age of 12 as an apprentice mechanic. At 17, he joined Siemens and Halske, an engineering company that built telegraph lines. He moved to Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire in 1852, working first as a technician in the Physical Institute of the Medical School building.
Marcus was the first to invent petrol powered combustion engine, which he placed on a pushcart, and then built four progressively sophisticated combustion-engine cars within a span of 15 years.
He was able to create the two-cycle combustion engine. His car’s second incarnation was in 1880 when he developed a four-cycle, gasoline-powered engine, an ingenious carburetor and magneto for ignition.
He finally created additional components; steering, a clutch, and brakes, which further refined his design and perfected his car. A four-stroke petrol internal combustion engine was developed and patented by Nikolaus Otto.
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This was followed by the development of a similar four-stroke diesel engine, which was invented by Rudolf Diesel. Otto and Diesel were both Germans. Nikolaus Otto was born on June 10th, 1832 at Holzhausen, Nassau and died January 26, 1891, Cologne Germany.
In 1892, Rudolf Diesel patented the engine that bears his name, an internal combustion engine that doesn’t require a spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture. Diesel was born in Paris to a German family and grew up in London, Paris, and Munich.
In 189, he won a patent for the diesel engine but continued to fine-tune its development for years. The diesel engine allowed trains and ships to operate more efficiently with oil instead of coal. Before the advent of petroleum products, hydrogen gas was the technology used for energizing automobile engine. Principally, Christian Friedrich Schönbein discovered this technology in 1838.
The massive or commercial development of vehicles was achieved in n 1885, Karl Benz who developed the petrol powered automobile. It was considered to be the first “production” vehicle as Benz made several other identical copies with a single cylinder two-stroke engine powered the automobile.
Frenchman, Amédée Bollée was the first to produce “real” automobile in 1873. He was able to develop a self-propelled steam road vehicle to transport a group of passengers.
The first carriage-sized automobile suitable for use on existing wagon roads in the United States was a steam-powered vehicle invented in 1871 by Dr. J.W. Carhart.  It induced the State of Wisconsin in 1875 to offer a $10,000 a handsome prize award to the first to produce a practical substitute for the use of horses and other animals.
They stipulated that the vehicle would have to maintain an average speed of more than 5 miles per hour (8.0 km/h) over a 200-mile (320 km) course. The offer led to the first city to city automobile race in the United States, starting on 16 July 1878 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and ending in Madison, via Appleton, Oshkosh, Waupun, Watertown, Fort Atkinson, and Janesville.
While seven vehicles were registered, only two started to compete: the entries from Green Bay and Oshkosh. The vehicle from Green Bay was faster but broke down before completing the race. The Oshkosh finished the 201-mile (323 km) course in 33 hours and 27 minutes and posted an average speed of six miles per hour. In 1879, the legislature awarded half the prize
The development of automobile was ‘pari-pasu’ competing between Americans and Europeans Asia with very little information from Asia.  Thus, in 1903, Model A Ford was produced and sold in America.
Ford Motor Company’s Model T became the first mass-produced automobile in 1908, focusing on affordability for the average consumer. By 1927 Ford produced over 15,000,000 Model T automobiles.
At the turn of the 20th century, electrically powered automobiles were a popular method of automobile propulsion, but their common use did not last long, and they diminished to a niche market until the turn of the 21st century. This is the short story of automobile invention.

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