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Fascinating facts about Ole Evinrude
inventor of the outboard motor in 1907.
Ole Evinrude
A pattern maker by trade, Ole Evinrude finished his first outboard motor in 1907 And even to this day, outboard motors are basically the same: using Ole’s idea of a vertical crankshaft, horizontal flywheels, and set of bevel gears. Today Evinrude motors will propel a boat a bit faster than the ’07 version (150 mph versus 5 mph).
Inventor: Ole Evinrude
Ole Evinrude photo courtesy
Criteria: First practical. Modern prototype. Entrepreneur.
Birth: April 19, 1877 in Oslo, Norway
Death: July 12, 1934
Nationality: American (of Norwegian descent)
Invention: outboard motor in 1907
Evinrude outboard motor courtesy
Function: noun
Definition: A detachable internal-combustion engine mounted on outboard brackets or on the stern of a boat
Patent: 1,001,260 (US) issued August 22, 1911
1877 Ole Evinrude born April 19, 1877 in Oslo, Norway
1882 Evinrude family moves to American and settles in Cambridge, Wisconsin
1905 Cameron Waterman invents and files patent application for a Boat-Propelling Device
1906 after Ole made a 5-mile roundtrip by rowboat he formed his idea for a practical boat motor
the first field tests of Evinrude's outboard motor, a 1 1/2 horsepower, 62-pound iron engine
1907 U.S. Patent No. 851,389 issued April 23, assigned to Waterman Marine Motor Co.
1910 Ole filed patent application for Marine Propulsion Mechanism on September 10
1911 Ole
formed a business partnership with a tugboat magnate named Chris Meyer
1911 U.S. Patent No. 1,001,260 issued August 22, assigned to Evinrude Motor Co,
1914 Ole sells his half interest in Evinrude Motor Co to Meyer, in order to take a vacation
1919 Ole designs a twin-cylinder, 3-horsepower, 48-pound, aluminum outboard motor.
1919 Ole forms  "Elto" Company to compete with the Meyer's Evinrude Company
1922 Johnson Motors established, specialist in inboard motors and speedboats
1929 a three-way merger formed Outboard Marine Corporation, Evinrude reacquired his first company
1932 OMC began to expand, producing, for example, "Evinrude Lawn-Boy" power lawnmowers
1934 Ole Evinrude passed away (1 year after his wife) and his son Ralph inherited the presidency
1936, OMC renamed Outboard Marine & Manufacturing Company after acquiring Johnson Outboards
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The Story


Invention of the Outboard Motor   from The Great Idea Finder
Transportation History   from The Great Idea Finder

The History of Science and Technology
by Bryan Bunch, Alexander Hellemans / Hardcover: 768 pages / Houghton Mifflin Company; (2004)
Highly browsable yet richly detailed, expertly researched and indexed, The History of Science and Technology is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the technologically advanced reader alike. Brief article on outdoor motors.
The Old Outboard Book
by Peter Hunn / Paperback: 320 pages / International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 3 ed. (2002)
The Old Outboard Book tells the story of the outboard motor, from the earliest days near the end of the nineteenth century through the dawn of the modern outboard era in the 1960s. Virtually every outboard motor ever built is here: Caille, Champion, Evinrude, Flambeau, Johnson, Martin, Mercury, Scott-Atwater, Waterwitch--the Big List chapter covers them all.
Evinrude, Johnson and the Legend of OMC
by Jeffrey L. Rodengen / Hardcover: 144 pages / Write Stuff Syndicate (September, 1992)
I was fascinated to see how the motors evolved, though at times it was like looking at an advertising brochure. It was obvious OMC was involved in the production, but what would you expect of a book about there company.
The Golden Age of the Racing Outboard
by Peter Hunn / Paperback: 224 pages / Devereux Books (April, 2000)
A very good book on the early history of outboard racing. Not too technical so no one will be scared off or bored with details. Peter Hunn's writing style makes it especially easy to read.

Ole Evinrude and the Outboard Motor.
Ole Evinrude was several things at once that carry weight with the American public. A self-made inventor, engineer, and businessman, he also lived the success story par excellence. Article by By Kenneth Bjork for the The Norwegian-American Historical Association.
Ole Evinrude, 1877-1934 - A Closer Look
A pattern maker by trade, Ole finished his first outboard motor in 1907 And even to this day, outboard motors are basically the same: using Ole’s idea of a vertical crankshaft, horizontal flywheels, and set of bevel gears.
Evinrude About The Comapny
In 1909 Ole Evinrude designed and tested his first Evinrude outboard motor. After minor improvements were made to the 2 cycle, water-cooled, forward-pointing, single cylinder engine in 1909, orders were received for more and patterns were again improved and sent to the foundry for parts for the first 25 motors to be produced. Evinrude is now owned by Bombardier and is doing well.
Invention of the Outboard Motor
Cameron Waterman successfully tested his invention on the ice-filled Detroit River in February, 1905. He formed the Waterman Marine Motor Company and filed a patent application on December 6, 1905 for a Boat-Propelling Device. U.S. Patent No. 851,389 issued April 23, 1907. The company eventually manufactured and sold up to 1,000 outboard motors a year.

National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame™ honors the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible..

NMMA Hall of Fame
History continues to verify that the innovative individuals who pursue perfection are often the ones who rise to the zenith of their chosen profession. Awarded by the National Marine Manufacturers Association beginning in 1988.

Official Evinrude Web Site
Evinrude is now part of Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.


  • A demand for cheapness brought the selling price down from $115.00, the price of the cheapest motor in 1930, to $34.50, the price of an Evinrude Mate today.
  •  A $42.50 model now can do what the $115.00 model of 1930 could do.
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Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised April 11, 2007.
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