On this day in 1868 in the village of Winningen, Rhenish Prussia, August Horch came into the world, and with him, a future bright in automotive engineering and a lasting legacy. After receiving a degree in engineering, Horch worked for Karl Benz from 1896 until he founded A. Horch & Co. in 1899 in Cologne, Germany, desiring to build his own cars. Following a dispute with investors Horch left his own company and set up a competing automaker, this time called Horch Automobil-Werke GmbH.
Legal action soon denied him use of the Horch name on his new vehicles, as it was still a registered trademark of his former partners. Horch and his new financiers gathered at the home of business partner Franz Fikentscher to discuss new names. While they chatted, Fikentscher’s teenage son studied Latin within earshot. During the conversation the boy suddenly piped up with a suggestion, name the new company Audi. Audi is the Latinization of Horch, both of which mean “to listen.” The men soon agreed to use the name.
The first car under the Audi name was launched in 1910 as the Type A. It has a 2600 cc four cylinder engine and a top speed of about 75 kilometers per hour (47 mph). The following year Audi introduced the Type B. Only 360 were built. August Horch left Audi in 1920 but remained in Berlin while writing his autobiography, I Built Cars. He would also serve on the board of Auto Union, the successor of Audi Automobilwerke GmbH. Horch passed away in Bavaria in 1951.