Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913) was a German engineer whose
goal was to come up with an engine that would improve on
the efficiency of steam and gasoline engines. He invented
the idea of using highly compressed, high temperature air to
ignite fuel and, in 1892, obtained a German development
patent. By 1897, his engine was a commercial success, bringing
him honors and wealth.
The first diesel engine for commercial service was built in
the U.S. in 1898 for use at a brewing company. Within a few
years, thousands of diesel engines were in use in many industries
throughout the U.S. and Europe.