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Born: March 18, 1858, Paris, France
Died: Sept. 29, 1913, at sea in the English Channel


Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel was a German thermal engineer who invented the internal-combustion engine. He was also a distinguished connoisseur of the arts, a linguist, and a social theorist.

About 1890, Diesel conceived the idea for the diesel engine. He obtained a German development patent in 1892 and the following year published a description of his engine under the title Theorie und Konstruktion eines rationellen Wäremotors (Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Motor). With support from the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg and the Krupp firms, he produced a number of increasingly successful models. In 1897, he demonstration a 25-horsepower, four-stroke, single vertical cylinder compression engine. The high efficiency of Diesel's engine, together with its comparative simplicity of design, made it an immediate commercial success.