Gottlieb Daimler was born in Schorndorf in Germany in 1834. After training as a gunsmith he became an engineer. He worked in Britain, France and Belgium before being appointed technical director to the gas-engine company which Nikolaus Otto founded at Deutz.
Daimler now worked with Otto and a young engineer, Wilhelm Maybach, in an attempt to develop the internal combustion engine for propelling road vehicles. After a dispute with Nikolaus Otto in 1882, Daimler and Maybach set up their own company.
Daimler and Maybach concentrated on producing the first light-weight, high-speed engine to run on gasoline. They eventually came up with an engine with a surface carburettor, that vaporized the petrol and mixed it with air. Whereas the engine that they produced with Nikolaus Otto achieved 130 revolutions per minute, Daimler and Maybach's engine reached 900 revolutions per minute.
In 1889 Daimler and Maybach placed their engine into a horse carriage and drove the car at speeds of 11 miles per hour. They had therefore produced the first four-wheeled automobile. After the men had had devised a four-speed gearbox and a belt-drive mechanism to turn the wheels they decided to sell these cars.
The Daimler Motor Company was launched in 1890. The company soon developed a reputation for reliability. In the first road race held between Paris and Rouen in 1894. Only 15 of the 102 cars completed the course. All 15 cars were powered by Daimler engines.
This impressed Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, who decided to use Daimler engines in the airships he was building. They were also used in the armoured cars that were being developed during this period. Gottlieb Daimler died in 1900 but Wilhelm Maybach continued to develop the Mercedes car and the Zeppelin Airship.