Anthony Iske was born in France and immigrated to the U.S. in 1847. He moved to Lancaster in 1853 and became an American citizen in 1858. Along with his son, Albert, he held over 200 patents. Most notable of his inventions was the first meat-slicing machine, a model of which is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Heat Motor was designed to turn the energy held by heated water into rotational movement. Heating the water in the trough would cause the air in the submerged cylinders to rise. As the engine began to turn, the cylinders would rise above the water, the air inside would cool, and the cylinders would fall on the opposing side, adding to the circular motion of the engine.