The history of Gottlieb Daimler

Gottlieb Daimler was born in Schorndorf on 17 March 1834. After training as a gunsmith and a stay in France, he attended the Polytechnic School in Stuttgart from 1857 to 1859. After various technical activities in France and England, he took up a position as a draughtsman in Geislingen in 1862. At the end of 1863 he became a workshop inspector in a machine factory in Reutlingen, where he also met Wilhelm Maybach in 1865. In 1872, he becomes technical director of Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz, where he becomes familiar with Otto’s four-stroke principle. After differences with the management, he leaves the company in 1882. Daimler sets up an experimental workshop in the greenhouse of his Cannstatt villa and decides to develop engines based on the four-stroke principle that run exclusively on gasoline as fuel. In 1884, together with Wilhelm Maybach, he succeeds in designing a combustion engine that is now known as a “grandfather clock”. With this design, which was aimed at weight reduction and compact construction, both had created the basis for installation in a vehicle. The costs of the test operation soon consumed Daimler’s entire assets, so he had to look for business partners. Together with Max Duttenhofer and his partner Wilhelm Lorenz, he founded the “Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft” on 28 November 1890. However, while Duttenhofer wanted to produce stationary engines, Daimler had vehicle production at heart and the dispute arose.

After Wilhelm Maybach also left the company in 1891 due to unacceptable contractual conditions, Daimler resorted to a ruse: together with Maybach, he continued to design engines, but the patents for all of them were in his name. Daimler’s increasingly tense relationship with Duttenhofer and Lorenz ultimately led to both of them excluding him as a shareholder. Due to stagnating technical development, which ultimately resulted in increasingly poorer balance sheets, DMG made an attempt to get Maybach back in 1895. The latter refused, stating that he would not return without Daimler. In the end, economic interests forced the two of them to rejoin society – the Phoenix engine designed by Maybach meant that the Daimler engine was on everyone’s lips abroad and a group of English industrialists were prepared to pay the sum of 350,000 marks for the corresponding licensing rights. While Maybach was appointed Technical Director of DMG, Gottlieb Daimler was given the position of an expert advisory board and general inspector on the supervisory board. The return of both brought DMG an unexpected upswing. However, Gottlieb Daimler had little time to witness this rapid development. He succumbs to a heart condition on March 6, 1900.