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.
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.