The history of the Johnson brothers as builders of boat motors dates back to 1903. It was in that year that four red-haired boys from Indiana, the oldest of whom were eighteen, put their first single-cylinder 3-horsepower engine at 400 rpm onto an 18-foot rowing boat.
Company boat with "its" motor 15 hp An amazing family worthy of at least a short general story. The grandfather of the famous brothers was a Danish captain, the father was a high-class blacksmith and mechanic. At the beginning of the century, America experienced a boom in "universal motorization." Thousands of young people invented and built engines and mechanisms that had never been seen before. The Johnson family lived near the Wabosh River and, probably, it should have happened that the first creation of the brothers was precisely the outboard motor.
It turned out that there were a lot of neighbors who wanted to turn their rowing boats into self- propelled boats, and the brothers began to assemble motors one by one. By 1905, they produced 2- and 4-cylinder engines up to 12 hp. High quality from the very beginning has become a signature feature of Johnson products. Even the very first of their engines already differed extraordinary reliability. There is evidence that one of them, made by the brothers in 1905, was in working condition 60 years later! By 1908, the brothers had mastered the production of a whole series of 4-, 6-, 8- and 12-cylinder stationary engines up to 180 hp. for high-speed boats.
Ohnsons were exceptionally talented and active people, obsessed with new ideas. Their success was not limited to the field of engines for ships. In 1911, they flew the first home-made monoplane in American history, thus only a few years behind the Wright brothers. By 1921, the Johnsons had made good progress in the automotive market, but in the end were driven out by the booming company of Henry Ford.
In the same 1921, the Johnson Motor company literally blew up the American market, firing a 2-hp outboard motor, which worked smoothly at 2300 rpm and provided the reverse with a 180 ° turn. It was made with a wide use of aluminum alloys, so weighed only 35 pounds. In order to properly evaluate this achievement, one must take into account that at that time heavy motors made of cast iron and bronze, which developed no more than 900 rpm and were shaking the boat no worse than moving it, were the generally accepted standard in the market.
Since then, the Johnson brothers have taken leading positions in the industry in order to never leave them. All subsequent years, up to the present, were years of continuous improvement and development of motors in pursuit of speed, efficiency and reliability.
In 1927, Johnson Motor built a new industrial complex in the city of Wokegan, near Chicago, which today is the headquarters of the Outboard Marine Corporation.
Johnson Motor was incorporated into this corporation in 1936, merging with Evinrud and Lockwood. For many decades, the OMS Corporation has become the world's largest manufacturer of boat engines.