The Budapest-born mechanical engineer received his diploma in 1903 at the Budapest Technical University. His main professional interest was energetics, though his theoretical work was extensive. After gaining experience at German, Belgian, Swiss and French factories, he obtained his degree of Ph. D. in the technical field.
His first invention was an aerial torpedo in 1915, which operated on the jet propulsion principle. This invention increased the effective range of artillery. It was a significant invention but failed to attract interest.
On the other hand, inventions which were more in accord with the technical level of his age became successful. He patented a new steam boiler in 1923 and an air compressor for mines in 1928. A patent application for his most important invention, the jet propulsion engine, was filed in Germany. This engine enabled aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. It took 4 years of preliminary examination before he received his patent in 1932. With this advanced invention Fonó proved himself ahead of his time.
From 1954 he was a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He received the Kossuth Prize in 1956 and from 1968 he was a corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics.
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