Nikolaus Otto, the German engineer who invented the engine that still drives most modern automobiles, was born on this day
Otto built the first gasoline-powered internal combustion engine that used the four-stroke cycle--later named the Otto cycle--in 1876. Although French engineer Alphonse Beau de Rochas had patented the idea in 1862, Otto received the credit for being the first to put it to use in an engine.
In Otto's engine, the piston goes through four movements: intake of air and gasoline, compression, power (expansion), and exhaust. The first practical alternative to the steam engine, Otto's invention was an immediate success.
[Source: Britannica Online]