This is a video montage of the Otto engines running at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion (WMSTR), in Rollag, Minnesota. (2 min 16 s, 320x240, 340kbit/s video)
Various scientists and engineers contributed to the development of internal combustion engines. In 1791, John Barber developed a turbine. In 1794 Thomas Mead patented a gas engine. Also in 1794 Robert Street patented an internal combustion engine, which was also the first to use liquid fuel, and built an engine around that time. In 1798, John Stevens built the first American internal combustion engine. In 1807, Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz built an internal combustion engine ignited by electric spark. In 1823, Samuel Brown patented the first internal combustion engine to be applied industrially.
In 1206, al-Jazari invented an early crankshaft, which he incorporated with a crank-connecting rod mechanism in his twin-cylinder pump. Like the modern crankshaft, Al-Jazari's mechanism consisted of a wheel setting several crank pins into motion, with the wheel's motion being circular and the pins moving back-and-forth in a straight line. The crankshaft described by al-Jazari transforms continuous rotary motion into a linear reciprocating motion,
1823: Samuel Brown patented the first internal combustion engine to be applied industrially. It was compressionless and based on what Hardenberg calls the "Leonardo cycle", which, as the name implies, was already out of date at that time.
1856: in Florence at Fonderia del Pignone (now Nuovo Pignone, later a subsidiary of General Electric), Pietro Benini realized a working prototype of the Italian engine supplying 5 HP. In subsequent years he developed more powerful engines—with one or two pistons—which served as steady power sources, replacing steam engines.
1857: Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci describe the principles of the free piston engine where the vacuum after the explosion allows atmospheric pressure to deliver the power stroke (British patent No 1625).
1861 Nikolaus Otto builds a copy of the Lenoir engine.
1862 Nikolaus Otto attempts the construction of the compressed charge four cycle engine, and fails.
1862 The earliest confirmed patent of the 4-cycle engine, by Alphonse Beau de Rochas. This was principle only, there was NO engine built to prove the concept.
1862: The German Nikolaus Otto begins to manufacture a no compression gas Lenoir engine with a free piston.
1864: Nikolaus Otto, patented in England and other countries his first atmospheric gas engine. Otto was the first to build and sell this type of compressionless engine designed with an indirect-acting free-piston, whose great efficiency won the support of Eugen Langen and then most of the market, which at that time was mainly for small stationary engines fueled by lighting gas. Eugen Langen collaborated with Otto in the design and they began to manufacture it in 1864.
1865: Pierre Hugon started production of the Hugon engine, similar to the Lenoir engine, but with better economy, and more reliable flame ignition.
1867: Otto and Langen exhibited their free piston engine at the Paris Exhibition in 1867, and they won the greatest award. It had less than half the gas consumption of the Lenoir or Hugon engines.
1872: In America George Brayton invented Brayton's Ready Motor and went into commercial production, this used constant pressure combustion, and was the first commercial liquid fuelled internal combustion engine.
1876: Nikolaus Otto, working with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, patented the compressed charge, four-stroke engine. The German courts, however, did not hold his patent to cover all in-cylinder compression engines or even the four-stroke cycle, and after this decision, in-cylinder compression became universal.
1878: Dugald Clerk designed the first two-stroke engine with in-cylinder compression. He patented it in England in 1881.
1879: Karl Benz, working independently, was granted a patent for his internal combustion engine, a reliable two-stroke gas engine. Later, Benz designed and built his own four-stroke engine that was used in his automobiles, which were developed in 1885, patented in 1886, and became the first automobiles in production.
1882: James Atkinson invented the Atkinson cycle engine. Atkinson’s engine had one power phase per revolution together with different intake and expansion volumes, potentially making it more efficient than the Otto cycle, but certainly avoiding Otto's patent.
1891: Herbert Akroyd Stuart built his oil engine, leasing rights to Hornsby of England to build them. They built the first cold-start compression-ignition engines. In 1892, they installed the first ones in a water pumping station. In the same year, an experimental higher-pressure version produced self-sustaining ignition through compression alone.
1892: Rudolf Diesel developed the first compressed charge, compression ignition engine .
1896: Karl Benz invented the boxer engine, also known as the horizontally opposed engine, or the flat engine, in which the corresponding pistons reach top dead center at the same time, thus balancing each other in momentum.
1898: Fay Oliver Farwell designs the prototype of the line of Adams-Farwell automobiles, all to be powered with three or five cylinder rotary internal combustion engines.
1905 Alfred Buchi patents the turbocharger and starts producing the first examples.
1903-1906: The team of Armengaud and Lemale in France build a complete gas turbine engine. It uses three separate compressors driven by a single turbine. Limits on the turbine temperatures allow for only a 3:1 compression ratio, and the turbine is not based on a Parsons-like "fan", but a Pelton wheel-like arrangement. The engine is so inefficient, at about 3% thermal efficiency, that the work is abandoned.
1908: Hans Holzwarth starts work on extensive research on an "explosive cycle" gas turbine, based on the Otto cycle. This design burns fuel at a constant volume and is somewhat more efficient. By 1927, when the work ended, he has reached about 13% thermal efficiency.
1920: William Joseph Stern reports to the Royal Air Force that there is no future for the turbine engine in aircraft. He bases his argument on the extremely low efficiency of existing compressor designs. Due to Stern's eminence, his paper is so convincing there is little official interest in gas turbine engines anywhere, although this does not last long.
1926: Alan Arnold Griffith publishes his groundbreaking paper Aerodynamic Theory of Turbine Design, changing the low confidence in jet engines. In it he demonstrates that existing compressors are "flying stalled", and that major improvements can be made by redesigning the blades from a flat profile into an airfoil, going on to mathematically demonstrate that a practical engine is definitely possible and showing how to build a turboprop.
1930: Schmidt patents a pulse-jet engine in Germany.
1935: Hans von Ohain creates plans for a turbojet engine and convinces Ernst Heinkel to develop a working model. Along with a single mechanic von Ohain develops the worlds first turbojet on a test stand.
27 August 1939: Flight of the world's first turbojet power aircraft. Hans von Ohain's Heinkel He 178 V1 pioneer turbojet aircraft prototype makes its first flight, powered by an He S 3 von Ohain engine.
15 May 1941: The Gloster E.28/39 becomes the first British jet-engined aircraft to fly, using a Power Jets W.1 turbojet designed by Frank Whittle and others.
1942: Max Bentele discovers in Germany that turbine blades can break if vibrations are in its resonance range, a phenomenon already known in the USA from the steam turbine experience.
1946: Samuel Baylin develops the Baylin Engine a three cycle internal combustion engine with rotary pistons. A crude but complex example of the future Wankel engine.
1951 engineers for The Texas Company—i.e. now Chevron—developed a four stroke engine with a fuel injector that employed what was called the Texaco Combustion Process, which unlike normal four stroke gasoline engines which used a separate valve for the intake of the air-gasoline mixture, with the T.C.P. engine the intake valve with a built in special shroud delivers the air to the cylinder in a tornado type fashion and then the fuel is injected and ignited by a spark plug. The inventors claimed their engine could burn on almost any petroleum based fuel of any octane and even some alcohol based fuels—e.g. kerosene, benzine, motor oil, tractor oil, etc. — without the pre-combustion knock and the complete burning of the fuel injected into the cylinder. While development was well advanced by 1950, there are no records of the T.C.P. engine being used commercially.
1950s development begins by US firms of the Free-piston engine concept which is a crankless internal combustion engine.
The first piston engines did not have compression, but ran on an air-fuel mixture sucked or blown in during the first part of the intake stroke. The most significant distinction between modern internal combustion engines and the early designs is the use of compression of the fuel charge prior to combustion.
The problem of ignition of fuel was handled in early engines with an open flame and a sliding gate. To obtain a faster engine speed Daimler adopted a Hot Tube ignition which allowed 600 rpm immediately in his 1883 horizontal cylinder engine and very soon after over 900 rpm. Most of the engines of that time could not exceed 200 rpm due to their ignition and induction systems.
The first practical engine, Lenoir's, ran on illuminating gas (coal gas). It wasn't until 1883 that Daimler created an engine that ran on liquid petroleum, a fuel called Ligroin which has a chemical makeup of Hexane-N. The fuel is also known as petroleum naptha.
Otto's first engines were push engines which produced a push through the entire stroke (like a Diesel). Daimler's engines produced a rapid pulse, more suitable for mobile engine use.
^ abRicci, G.; et al. (2012). "The First Internal Combustion Engine". In Starr, Fred; et al. The Piston Engine Revolution. London: Newcomen Society. pp. 23–44. ISBN978-0-904685-15-2.CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)