Nikolaus Otto Biography, the Inventor of Internal-combustion Engine

Nikolaus Otto was a German inventor. He was remembered to this day as the engineer who invented internal-combustion engine with four-stroke cycle machine. This invention changed the world’s industrial field by offering steam engine alternative power.

The inventor has major impact for the course of industrial history. For those who want to find out more about the German inventor, everything you need to know is listed down below. Here is his full biography.

The Early Life

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The German inventor was born in Holzhausen, Germany on June 10th 1832. He was the last child in his family, having five older brothers and sisters. Little Otto barely knew his father because the father died when Otto was very young.

Otto showed signs of intelligence since very early age. He was always interested in books and mechanical stuff around his house. He also tried to build numerous things, including toys on his own.

He also loved to pay attention on his older siblings who worked with carpentry and machinery around the house.

His Education Background

Nikolaus Otto started to go to school in 1838 when he was six years old. Because he was very smart at school, six years later he was transferred directly to high school. He was there for several years until decided to drop out.

Even though he had not finished his education, he got enough knowledge to sharpen his interest in machinery. In his high school year, Otto was always drawn to technology and science as well. However, he got fair ability in doing business science as well.


The German inventor started to establish his inventions a few years after he dropped out of school. His first invention was the gasoline-powered engine. This engine was generally well-accepted, especially by those who run business in mass producing.

A few years later, he invented the internal-combustion engine with four-stroke cycle. This invention is considered as the most famous one from the German inventor. To this day, the four-stroke cycle can be found under the name of “Otto cycle” to honor the inventor.

Personal Life

Nikolaus Otto got married to the love of his life, Anna Gossi. Together, they have several children. Some of their children followed Otto’s footsteps in science and technology industry, including Gustav Otto, a world-famous aircraft designer.

Otto’s childhood home in Germany is now a museum and a famous tourist destination in the area. Its exhibits are including Otto’s personal belongings. The museum is constantly promoted by the local government to keep Otto’s legacy alive.

Later Life and Death

In his later life, the German inventor decided to withdraw from public life. He lived generally in private, spending time with his family. He died on January 26th 1891. He was 58 years of age when he died.

The information about his final resting place is not quite certain to this day. One thing for sure is he was buried somewhere in Germany, most likely in Holzhausen, the city where he was born at. There are also rumors that Nikolaus Otto was buried in his beloved childhood home.

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