To the Editor,
In the December 20, 1999 edition of Automotive News Europe, you identified Robert Bosch as an empire builder who 'never took credit for any of the inventions attributed to him.' But it would be fair to note that the magneto on which his company's early fortunes were founded, and on which he 'never sought a patent,' was in fact invented by Frederick Simms.
Simms was the father of the UK motor industry and a founder of key motoring organizations in Britain. Bosch could not have patented another man's device, I think. Simms is usually understood to have passed his magneto design to Bosch for development and manufacture.
The two men loved game shooting, and attended shoots together. Simms's daughter Rosie once told me that on one English country-house shoot Bosch begged to be excused because he felt unwell. Returning later to his room, Simms found Bosch poring over drawings for the magneto.
Perhaps the story reflected some bitterness that developed as Bosch went on to industrial greatness and Simms pursued a less notable career.
In any event, Simms clearly did not benefit as much as Bosch from the invention. You were of course quite right to include Simms in your recent 'most influential of the millennium' list.
Eastrop, Wiltshire, England