Born to German immigrants in Menomonie, Wisconsin, in 1876, Harry Miller shunned his father's encouragement to become a painter and chose instead a career in engineering. He dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to work in a local machine shop.


A gifted tinkerer, Miller invented for the joy of it. He built what is said to have been the first motorcycle ever made in the United States by hooking up a one-cylinder engine to his bicycle. In the mid-1890s, Miller built the country's first outboard motor, a four-cylinder engine that he clamped to his rowboat. Miller never sought a patent for either invention. Miller left Wisconsin, in 1897, for Los Angeles, where he opened a machine shop. In 1905, he built his first car.

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