Who Invented the Internal Combustion Engine?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 10:07:58 PM ET

The first internal combustion engine was invented by the French engineer J.J. Etienne Lenoir in 1859. It was a gasoline engine with an ignition system. The engine was able to run continuously.

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There were earlier attempts to build an internal combustion engine, such as the engine built by the Dutch physicist Christian Huygens in 1680. This was a cumbersome device and did not work on gasoline as gasoline was yet to be discovered.

In 1888, Nikolaus Otto built the first successful four-stroke engine. In that same year, Sir Dougald Clerk built the first two-stroke engine. In 1891, Joseph Day made changes to this engine invented by Sir Dougald Clerk, and it became commercially successful.