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1923 DKW motorized bike.

In 1904 Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen and Carl Ernst founded a company in Germany: Rassmussen & Ernst. In 1906 they bought a factory in Zschopau, Saxony to produce steam fittings. In 1916 they attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW (Dampfkraftwagen). This project was unsuccessful, but a two-stroke toy engine built in 1919 was an immense success. The toy engine was also called DKW: Des Knaben Wunsch – "the boy's desire". Rasmussen put a slightly modified version of this engine into a motorcycle and called it Das Kleine Wunder – "the little marvel". This was the beginning of the DKW brand: by the 1930s, DKW was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer.

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