Bertha Benz

Article

August 8, 2022

Bertha Benz (German: Cäcilie Bertha Benz; born Cäcilie Bertha Ringer; May 3, 1849 - May 5, 1944) was the inventor of long-distance automobile travel, business partner and wife of the German auto engineer and inventor Karl Benz. On August 5, 1888, she made the first ever long-distance car trip (105 km).

Biography

Early life and marriage

Bertha Ringer was born on May 3, 1849, into a wealthy family in Pforzheim in the Grand Duchy of Baden. Two years before she married Karl Benz, she used part of her dowry to invest in his first company, a foundry. She was able to do this as an unmarried woman, but after marriage, according to German law, Bertha lost the right to act as an investor. On July 20, 1872, Bertha Ringer married Carl Benz. He continued to use her dowry to develop his new company, Benz & Cie. In December 1885, Karl Benz finished work on the world's first automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. In addition to partially financing its development, Bertha also made a number of design suggestions, such as leather brake pads. Under modern law, she would have had patent rights, but as a married woman she was not allowed to be named the inventor of the patent at the time.

First long-distance car trip

On August 5, 1888, Bertha Benz took a car without her husband's knowledge and made a trip with her two sons from Mannheim to Pforzheim to visit her mother. During the day, motorists covered a total of 106 km. On the way, they bought gasoline several times in pharmacies (it was sold there as a cleaning agent) and repaired the brake and drive belts at a tinsmith. Several times they had to overcome climbs, pushing the car uphill. Benz reached Pforzheim after dusk and informed her husband about her successful journey by telegram. A few days later she returned to Mannheim. Although the purpose of the trip was ostensibly to visit her mother, Bertha Benz had other motives — to prove to her husband that the car they had invested heavily in would be a financial success. After this trip, the couple improved the car. In particular, Berta proposed to develop an additional gear for climbing hills and gal�