Rudolf Diesel, German inventor of the diesel engine, c 1900s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1892 Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913) patented a design for a new type of internal combustion engine. In 1897 he produced a 25 horsepower, four-stroke, single vertical cylinder compresion engine, the high efficiency of which, together with its comparative simplicity of design, made it an immediate commercial succes. Subsequent royalty fees brought great wealth to its inventor. He was lost overboard from the mail steamer 'Dresden' during a trip to London in 1913 and was asumed to have drowned.