We spend most of our lives commuting by some form of public transport. Our daily hustle begins and ends with either an auto rickshaw, bus, taxi or train ride. Ever wondered who were the people behind these amazing inventions? What’s Up, Germany? gives you interesting insights into the lives of some great German inventors, one wheel at a time.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
When German engineer Karl Benz designed and built the world’s first practical car powered by an internal combustion engine in 1885, hardly anyone took notice. That is, not until his wife, Bertha, took the car without asking him on a long-distance journey to see her mother. She had to buy fuel at chemist shops and made repairs with her hairpin and garter belt! This test drive caught the public’s imagination, and Karl soon received a patent for his motorcar.
Gottlieb Daimler & Wilhelm Maybach
Engineers Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach experimented with a single-cylinder engine nicknamed the “grandfather clock”. In 1885, they shrunk it, attached it to a wooden two-wheeler and gave birth to the world’s first motorcycle, or what they called the Reitwagen (riding car). By 1889, they started building cars and launched their own company. Ten years later, they named a car Mercedes, in honour of Mercedes Jellinek, a customer’s daughter. Eventually, Daimler’s and Benz’s companies merged, forming Daimler-Benz, and the Mercedes-Benz was born.
Werner von Siemens
In 1834, Werner had to leave school without a degree due to lack of money. That very year he joined a training programme at the Artillery and Engineering School in Berlin, which provided a solid foundation for his future work. He built the first electric train in 1879 and showcased it at the Berlin Trade Fair.
Confined to a hospital bed after an accident, mechanical engineer Rudolf Diesel created a diesel engine that could run on just about any fuel, including peanut oil! Sadly, this pioneer of biofuels never lived to see any success. In 1913, while travelling on a ship from Germany to England, he fell overboard and drowned. There are conspiracy theories surrounding his death.