Gasoline properties have changed considerably since 1908 when the automobile became the principal consumer of gasoline. This paper provides a history of changes in gravity, lead antiknock additive content, antiknock index, volatility, sulfur content, hydrocarbon composition, oxygenate usage, and additives. Today's gasoline has evolved into a high octane, low sulfur product which now has limits on the maximum vapor pressure and contains oxygenates to help reduce harmful emissions.
GASOLINE WAS CONSIDERED a worthless by-product of petroleum prior to its commercial development which began no later than 1863. Who discovered it is difficult to establish, but Joshua Merrill may have isolated gasoline in Boston as a result of his efforts to further refine kerosene, the primary petroleum product at that time (1)*. Gasoline was first used in air-gas machines to produce fuel that could be piped and burned in gaslights to illuminate mills and factories. It was the fuel used in 1876 in the first four-stroke cycle engine built by Nicolaus Otto in Germany.