There's a better-than-even chance that the car you're driving has at least one part stamped with the name of a German engineer born just as the U.S. Civil War kicked off. Robert Bosch opened his "Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering” in 1886 in Stuttgart, after a series of apprenticeships that included a stint in Thomas Edison's shops. While he struggled for several years, Bosch and his team solved one of the early challenges of internal combustion engines — how to reliably provide low and high-voltage sparks that could ignite fuel, including the first workable spark plugs in 1901. By 1910, Bosch had a U.S. factory among others around the world supplying spark plugs to many automakers; he was also known for the somewhat radical idea of treating his workers well and providing generous benefits. Today, Bosch stands as the world's largest auto parts maker — owned by Bosch's charitable foundation, which he set up before his death in 1942.