(Szeged, January 22nd, 1852 – Budapest, October 27th, 1939)
An inventor, one of the most prominent figures in the history of Hungarian technology and the founders of the automobile industry in Hungary. Self-taught in many areas, he achieved significant results without a university degree, so the Chamber of Engineers authorised him to use the title of engineer in 1924. He went to Paris in 1874, where studying the Lenoir-motor he recognized the importance of combustion engines.
The Technical University of Budapest advertised the post of the head of the machine training workshop and he won the position out of 32 applicants.
In 1879 he constructed a gas engine with tools and equipment devised by himself., which he patented in 1884 under the name of Gas and petroleum engine. In the Ganz Factory - at the invitation of András Mechwart, general manager - he began to design engines with Donát Bánki.
The Bánki-Csonka engine was patented in 1890. Bánki-Csonka's world-wide patent applied for on 11th February 1893 was the carburettor. The jointly constructed Ganz engines achieved significant success on the world expositions.
Csonka designed and produced laboratory equipment, tensile testing-machines and instruments at the Technical University.
In 1894, the Bánki-Csonka motorcycle with auxiliary engine was created with the practical application of the carburettor and tube ignition. Csonka's reliable automatic ignition combustion tube was in service till the invention of the Bosch system.
From 1898, Csonka dealt mainly with motor-driven vehicles. He finished his 3-wheel motor-driven tricycle, which was bought by the Hungarian Post in 1900. Aluminium as a construction material was applied first on these vehicles in Hungary.
In 1904 the Hungarian Post issued an international tender for the acquisition of 8 post vehicles. The tender evaluation committee accepted Csonka's four-cylinder, independently constructed vehicle.
Csonka's post car rolled out of the garden of the Technical University at dawn on 31st May 1905. This day is regarded as the birthday of Hungarian automobile manufacturing. In his workshop a number of different automobiles were produced. He was fond of driving, too. In 1909 he designed and built a small single cylinder 4 HP car with cylinder bore of 90 mm, and stroke of 100 mm. It was built into one block with the gear and he used a cardan drive.
Csonka enriched automobile manufacture with his controlled inlet valve, high voltage magnetic ignition; he also compiled the first special automobile dictionary. He was the organiser of the Royal Automobile Club of Hungary.
Membership: Hungarian Society of Natural Sciences (1887)
Honours: Medal of Merit at the Paris World Exposition (1900), Andrássy Plaque for construction of the first vehicle (1910).