The first outboard motor was a small 5 kilogram electric unit designed around 1870 by Gustave Trouvé. It was patented in 1880.
By 1896 there had been close to 25 petrol-powered outboards produced by the American Motors Company.
The first gasoline powered outboard motor was the Waterman outboard engine, which was designed and developed in 1903 by Cameron Waterman, a young Yale engineering student. The patent application for the Waterman outboard was filed in 1905 and production started in 1906.
Approximately 25 000 outboards were sold by 1914. The Caille Motor Company of Detroit was instrumental in the making of the Waterman outboards.
Another highly successful outboard motor builder was Ole Evinrude. His company produced thousands of outboard motors which were sold around the world between 1909 and 1912. The Evinrude Outboard Co. was sold off to new owners after which Ole Evinrude went on to open the ELTO company to produce two-cylinder motors.