1826 – Samuel Morey Patents the Internal Combustion Engine

As part of our 200 year anniversary we are celebrating significant events that have taken place since 1817 – 2017. This week it is 1826 and Samuel Morey patents the internal combustion engine.

There have been many notable inventions in transportation but potentially one of the most significant is the internal combustion engine.

If you had been alive on 1st April 1826 you might have been forgiven for thinking it was an elaborate April Fool’s but sure enough Morey patented the first way a modern automobile could be propelled – work that continues to affect our everyday lives today.

The seed for this idea was potentially planted over three centuries earlier by Leonardo di Vinci who famously sketched the details of an engine that contained an encapsulated air – fuel mixture to drive a machine.

Morey had always been interested in this field and started by working on his Dad’s ferry and other steamboats and after tinkering for some time he created a two chamber engine which works pretty much the same way as they do today.

After receiving his patent Morley was curious as to how people could actually use his invention. This became, somewhat painfully clear, when he strapped it to a waggon to see if it would power the wheels and ‘drove’ (it had no steering) himself into a ditch.

Despite being such a revolutionary invention it would take another 50 years and a group of German engineers to start producing their own for interest to begin and then a further few decades for this to begin to infiltrate people’s everyday lives.

We hope you will come back next week when we will be in 1828 when the first electric motor was built. See you there!