How it began

The war was over. The world’s nations were busy putting their houses in order and repairing the damage left in its wake. Energy was in great demand, and the internal combustion engine was seen as being instrumental in meeting it. The technology, meanwhile 50 years old, was still young. During the war years, economics had been side lined by the urgent need to develop and produce. Little was known of neighbouring countries’ efforts, what they were doing and why. Now, with mountains of problems unresolved, it was time to co-operate, compare experience, discuss problems and share insights into the future of the industry. Although global congresses on power generation had often devoted specific sessions to the technology of internal combustion engines, it was felt the subject deserved its own forum. The credit for initiating such a forum goes to Paul Tharlet and Jean Messiez-Poche of the French “Syndicat des Constructeurs de Moteurs à Combustion Interne”. Jean Messiez-Poche: “L’intérêt d’un Congres traitant du moteur diesel et de ses problèmes du moment fut evoque au cours d’une conversation entre le regretté president Tharlet et moi-meme, fin 1949”. Paul C. Tharlet encouraged organisations from no fewer than nine other countries to take part, namely from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. The organisation was founded in June 1950 and named “Congrès International des Moteurs à Combustion Interne”. The term “Interne” was dropped from this name six years later at the Zurich congress, where gas turbines were included among the topics.

Zürich 1957

The acronym CIMAC comes from the French name “Congrès International des Moteurs A Combustion Interne”.

Paris 1951: The First Congress
The first congress in the history of CIMAC was organised by “Le Syndicat des Constructeurs de Moteurs à Combustion Interne” under its president Paul C. Tharlet, who subsequently became the first CIMAC President. 89 papers in all were accepted for the congress by the technical commission headed by Jean Messiez-Poche, who went on to serve for 23 years on the Permanent Committee of CIMAC. This first CIMAC Congress was rated a remarkable success and attracted no fewer than 505 delegates from 15 countries. Its 87 “accompanying persons” were taken good care of by the “Comité des Dames”. A balanced programme of technical sessions, works visits and social events lasting nearly two weeks duly impressed the participants, who were generous with their praise. The general feeling was clear; there was everything to be gained by holding another congress in the not-too distant future.

book The Comité Permanent Discussions held between the heads of the participating national organisations resulted in an agreement to organise annual meetings devoted to individual topics as well as a full congress every five years. Paul C. Tharlet: “So, the working plan is: meetings, universal congresses every three, four or five years and – in the interim periods – yearly gatherings for specialised discussion”.

To promote itself, a “Bureau Permanent” – the English version of the proceedings refers to a “Permanent Committee” – was established by acclamation during the closing session of the first CIMAC Congress in Paris on Friday May 11th, 1951. Delegates were asked to establish national organisations and ask them to comment on the statutes drafted by the Secretariat and to apply for membership of the CIMAC Permanent Committee. Paul C. Tharlet was elected president of CIMAC, with Haakon Andresen and Jan Goedkoop as vice-presidents.

1951 Paris  505  89
1953 Milan  315  28
1955 The Hague  380  29
1957 Zurich  619  25
1959 Wiesbaden  790  36
1962 Copenhagen  749  30
1965 London  726  31
1968 Brussels  690  30
1971 Stockholm  719  49
1973 Washington D.C.  630  50
1975 Barcelona  870  57
1977 Tokyo  578  81
1979 Vienna  706  68
1981 Helsinki  687  87
1983 Paris 779 110
1985 Oslo 647  97
1987 Warsaw  582  96
1989 Tianjin  406 104
1991 Florence 428 103
1993 London  483 118
1995 Interlaken  520  99
1998 Copenhagen  812 147
2001 Hamburg  845 177
2004 Tokyo 708 199
2007 Wien 779 182
2010 Bergen 800 217
2013 Shanghai 889 261
2016 Helsinki 815 220

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