The Wright vertical four-cylinder engine was designed by Orville Wright in 1906. These engines, of which more were built than any other Wright Brothers' engine model, were produced until approximately 1912. They were used during the U.S. Army and European demonstrations, which were crucial to the success of the Wright brothers and their airplanes. An engine of this type powered the Vin Fiz, the first U.S. transcontinental aircraft, and Wright Model B aircraft. A Wright B1 was the U.S. Navy’s second aircraft, which was first flown by Orville Wright on July 15, 1911, and later converted to a “hydroaeroplane.”
This particular engine was a keepsake of Orville Wright for many years. Wright gave the engine to his close and trusted friend, Jim Jacobs, who had been a mechanic with the original Wright Company. In 1948, the engine was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by Jacobs' wife, Ruth.