Karl Friedrich Benz (German: [kaɐ̯l ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈbɛnts] November 25, 1844 – April 4, 1929) was a German engine designer and engineer, generally regarded as the inventor of the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine, and together with Bertha Benz, pioneering founder of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz which is now one of the leading car brands. Other German contemporaries, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach working as partners, also worked on similar types of inventions, without knowledge of the work of the other, but Benz received a patent for his work first, and, subsequently patented all the processes that made the internal combustion engine feasible for use in an automobile. In 1879, his first engine patent was granted to him, and in 1886, Benz was granted a patent for his first automobile. Karl Benz was born Karl Friedrich Michael Vaillant, on November 25, 1844 in Mühlburg, now a borough of Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, which is part of modern Germany, to Josephine Vaillant and a locomotive driver, Johann George Benz, whom she married a few months later. According to German law, the child acquired the name "Benz" by legal marriage of his parents Benz and Vaillant. When he was two years old, his father died of pneumonia, his name was changed to Karl Friedrich Benz in remembrance of his father. Despite living in near poverty, his mother strove to give him a good education. Benz attended the local Grammar School in Karlsruhe and was a prodigious student. In 1853, at the age of nine he started at the scientifically oriented Lyceum. Next he studied at the Poly-Technical University under the instruction of Ferdinand Redtenbacher. Benz had originally focused his studies on locksmithing, but he eventually followed his father's steps toward locomotive engineering. On September 30, 1860, at age fifteen, he passed the entrance exam for mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, which he subsequently attended. Benz was graduated July 9, 1864 at nineteen. During these years, while riding his bicycle, he started to envision concepts for a vehicle that would eventually become the horseless carriage. Following his formal education, Benz had seven years of professional training in several companies, but did not fit well in any of them. The training started in Karlsruhe with two years of varied jobs in a mechanical engineering company. He then moved to Mannheim to work as a draftsman and designer in a scales factory. In 1868 he went to Pforzheim to work for a bridge building company Gebrüder Benckiser Eisenwerke und Maschinenfabrik. Finally, he went to Vienna for a short period to work at an iron construction company. In 1871, at the age of twenty-seven, Karl Benz joined August Ritter in launching the Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop in Mannheim, later renamed Factory for Machines for Sheet-metal Working. The enterprise's first year went very badly. Ritter turned out to be unreliable, and the business's tools were impounded. The difficulty was overcome when Benz's fiancée, Bertha Ringer, bought out Ritter's share in the company using her dowry. On July 20, 1872, Karl Benz and Bertha Ringer married. They had five children: Eugen (1873), Richard (1874), Clara (1877), Thilde (1882), and Ellen (1890). Despite the business misfortunes, Karl Benz led in the development of new engines in the early factory he and his wife owned. To get more revenues, in 1878 he began to work on new patents. First, he concentrated all his efforts on creating a reliable petrol two-stroke engine. Benz finished his two-stroke engine on December 31, 1878, New Year's Eve, and was granted a patent for it in 1879. Karl Benz showed his real genius, however, through his successive inventions registered while designing what would become the production standard for his two-stroke engine. Benz soon patented the speed regulation system, the ignition using sparks with battery, the spark plug, the carburetor, the clutch, the gear shift, and the water radiator.