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János Csonka

János Csonka

János Csonka was born in Szeged on January 22nd 1852, the seventh child of a reputable, engine-building master blacksmith. Even today among the millions of petrol engines in use there are engines fitted with Bánki-Csonka carburettors the basic concept for which they developed and patented in 1893.

Young János Csonka watched with interest the work that went on in his father's workshop, where, among other things, medical instruments were made. He was a first-class student and while at grammar school learnt German, Latin and French. In 1873 he moved to Budapest and began working for the Hungarian State Railways.

In 1874 he went to Vienna, where as well as receiving technical training he also studied natural sciences and broadened his education in general. Later he worked in Zurich at the world-famous company of Escher Wyss, followed by 2 years in Paris. It was while he was in a Parisian print shop that he came across a Lenoir engine and after examining it carefully Csonka realised the importance of the internal combustion engine. In England he visited the major industrial centres.

At the age of 25 János Csonka was appointed head of the teaching workshops of the Technical University of Budapest. The tradesmen he employed were paid out of his own pocket and with their help he was able to carry out his studies and to make innovations to the machines in the teaching workshop. In 1879 he built the first Hungarian gas engine and in 1882 an engine powered by both gas and petrol, showing his abilities as an inventor, designer and engineer.

An important stage of his career began when the managing director of Ganz asked him to put the company's foreign engines in working order. Csonka together with Ganz's young engineer Donát Bánki, developed the Bánki-Csonka engines, which were followed by a whole series of inventions that were developed and patented jointly.Their most important invention was the carburettor, which was exhibited at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris.

In addition to his technical achievements János Csonka made a lasting contribution to the modernisation of the practical side of Hungarian Higher Education in technical subjects. As well as Donát Bánki and Robert Bosch he had many friends who were fellow inventors and well-known university lecturers. In addition to building engines Csonka was also very interested in motor vehicle design. He designed a postal vehicle for the Hungarian Post, which was tested on May 31st 1905. The first Hungarian supercharged engines and engines for fire engines, motor boats, mine locomotives and rail-cars as well as cars and buses were designed and manufactured by him. He revolutionised engine manufacture with innumerable new procedures and ways of using materials and he was connected with the publication of the first Hungarian technical dictionary for automobiles.

In 1924, in recognition of his great merits, the Hungarian Society of Engineers allowed him to use the title of mechanical engineer.

After"retiring" he set up a workshop equipped with machine tools that he had made himself, where his sons helped him. As an employer he was also concerned about the wel



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