Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (info) (BMW), (English: Bavarian Motor Works) is an independent German automobile manufacturer founded in 1916. It also produces motorcycles, and is the parent company of both the MINI and Rolls-Royce car brands.
Main article: History of BMW
After World War I, BMW (and Germany) were forced to cease aircraft (engine) production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923 once the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted, followed by automobiles in 1928.
The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is often alleged to portray the movement of an airplane propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky. An interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, which was actually twelve years after the roundel was created. In fact, the emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew. The Rapp logo was combined with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria to produce the BMW roundel so familiar today. The early success of the outstanding BMW IIIa inline-six aviation engine, from 1917-18 in World War I, with the Luftstreitkräfte in a limited number of Fokker D.VII fighters, as well as a number of prototype "inline-six" fighters from various manufacturers, might have actually influenced the BMW logo's design.