Diesel Engine Development Timeline

The following timeline provides an overview of the development of the diesel engine during the industrial age of the late 19th century up to the present date. Other significant events are interspersed in the timeline to provide context to the various improvements in technology.

1885 Benz invents first vehicle to use an internal combustion engine
1888 The Eiffel Tower is built
1888 Hertz produces radio waves
1892 Rudolph Diesel applies for a patent for his "thermal combustion engine"
1893 Diesel builds a ten foot long working model of his engine
1893 Tesla invents wireless communication
1895 Marconi develops radio signals
1897 First prototype diesel engine that is feasible for production developed by Diesel
1897 Adolphus Busch licenses the diesel engine for the United States and Canada
1898 Russian oil company Branobel obtains license to produce a diesel engine that will use unrefined oil for fuel
1899 Engine builders Krupp and Sulzer acquire license from Diesel, and become major diesel engine suppliers
1900 The first Zeppelin is built
1902 MAN produces 82 diesel engines by 1910
1903 Diesel powered French built Petite-Pierre boat begins fresh-water operations
1903 The Wright brothers invent the first motor powered airplane
1903 Vandal tanker begins operations in Russia using Swedish built diesel engines
1904 The first diesel powered submarine, the Z, is launched by the French navy
1905 Diesel engine turbo-chargers and intercoolers built by Buchl
1908 Henry Ford introduces mass production with the Model T
1908 Deutz and L'Orange perfect a fuel injection pump with precision needle controlled injection
1909 Benz and L'Orange introduce the pre-chamber, which utilizes a hemispherical combustion chamber
1910 The Fram, a Norwegian vessel, becomes the first ocean-going ship with a diesel engine, although it was merely a secondary engine
1912 The Danish ship, MS Selandia, is the first ocean-going ship powered exclusively by diesel engines
1912 The first locomotive diesel engine is introduced
1913 U.S. Navy submarines are equipped with diesel engines
1913 Rudolph Diesel mysteriously disappears while crossing the English Channel aboard the SS Dresden
1914 German U-boats are diesel powered
1919 L'Orange patents an pre-chamber insert for a needle injection nozzle
1919 Cummins manufactures its first diesel engine
1921 L'Orange develops a variable output injection pump
1922 First vehicle with a pre-chamber diesel, the Agricultural Tractor Type 6, by Benz
1923 First pre-chamber diesel engine truck, by Benz
1923 Lee DeForest invents moving pictures with sound
1927 First truck injection pumps and nozzles manufactured by Bosch
1927 First passenger car diesel, by Stoewer
1928 Alexander Fleming produces penicillin and antibiotics
1930 Caterpillar begins using diesels in tractors
1930 First diesel powered U.S. Car, a Packard with a Cummins diesel, built in Columbus, Indiana
1930 Diesel engines power British airship R101
1934 Military tank equipped with diesel, the Polish 7TP
1934 Germany begins production of aviation diesels, producing over 900 by the onset of WWII
1936 Mercedes-Benz builds a diesel car
1936 The Super Chief diesel train is introduced by AT&SF
1936 The Hindenberg airship is powered by diesel
1937 The jet engine is invented by Frank Whittle and Hans von Ohain
1937 USSR powers its military tanks with diesel
1943 Common rail fuel injection patented by Clessie Cummins
1945 The atomic bomb is invented, and deployed, to end WWII
1953 Mercedes introduces a turbo diesel truck in limited production
1954 Volvo mass produces turbo diesel truck
1954 First overhead camshaft diesel engine, by Daimler Benz
1962 Clessie Cummins patents a diesel compression braking system. The brake was eventually manufactured by the Jacobs Company, a leading producer of drill chucks, and was affectionately nicknamed The Jake Brake
1968 Peugeot introduces small cars with a transverse mounted diesel and front wheel drive
1969 Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon
1976 Cummins common rail injection system undergoes further refinement by ETH Zurich
1980 First passenger car turbo diesels introduced by Mercedes
1986 Bosch designs electronic diesel control for BMW 524tD
1986 Fiat builds first passenger car with a direct injection turbo diesel engine
1990 The World Wide Web is developed by Tim Berners-Lee
1995 First common rail injection system in production truck, in Japan
1997 First common rail injections system in a passenger car, the Alfa Romeo 156
1998 BMW wins the 24 Hour Race at Nurburgring using a four cylinder diesel. Better fuel efficiency allowed the BMW to take less pit stops in winning the race
2001 GM introduces the Duramax Diesel 6600, a 6599 cubic centimeter diesel built in partnership with Isuzu. Its U.S. market share soars to 30% from a meager 3%
2001 Digital satellite radio is first introduced
2002 Land pickup truck speed record of 222 MPH set by a Dodge Dakota with a 735 HP diesel engine
2004 Piezo electric fuel injection technology introduced by Bosch
2011 Chevrolet increases torque to 765 lb/ft and horsepower to 397 in its newest version of the Duramax Diesel 6600 by converting to piezo electric fuel injection and refining other features of the engine.