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What contribution did ford make to the automobile industry

what contribution did ford make to the automobile industry

1863 Born July 30 in Greenfield Township, now Dearborn, Michigan.

1879 Leaves family farm for Detroit to work in machine shops.

1888 Marries Clara Bryant moves to 80-acre farm in what is today Dearborn.

1891 Secures position as engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company; returns to Detroit.

1893 Edsel Bryant Ford, only child of Henry and Clara Ford, born.

1896 Completes his first automobile, the Quadricycle, and drives it through the streets of Detroit.

1899 Ends employment with the Edison to devote full attention to the manufacture of automobiles.

1899 Made chief engineer and partner in the newly formed Detroit Automobile Company

1901 Henry Ford Company organized with Ford as engineer. Ford resigns over dispute with bankers 1902 Henry Ford Company becomes the Cadillac Motor Car Co.

1903 Ford Motor Company is officially incorporated. Model A appears on the market in Detroit.

1908 Ford begins manufacturing the famous Model T.

1910 Begins operations at factory in Highland Park, Michigan.

1913 Introduces first moving automobile assembly line at Highland Park manufacturing facility.

1914 Ford Motor Company' begins paying its workers $5.00 for an eight hour day

1917 Begins construction of industrial facility on the Rouge River in Dearborn, Michigan.

1918 Loses his bid for the U.S. Senate.

1919 Edsel B .Ford, son of Henry Ford, is named president of Ford Motor Company

1921 Ford Motor Company dominates auto production with 55 percent of industry's total output.

1927 Transfers final assembly line from Highland Park plant to the Rouge

1937 "Battle of the Overpass" occurs between Ford security staff and United Auto Workers union

1941 Ford Motor Company signs a contract with UAW.

1943 Edsel B. Ford dies at age 49.

1947 Henry Ford dies at age 83, at Fair Lane, his Dearborn, Michigan home

CAPS:Ford, Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Henry Ford II, Bill Ford, Thomas Edison, Frederick Taylor, UAW, John Hall, George Eastman, ARY, mass production, assembly line, moving assembly line, manufacturing, production, automobile, SIP, history, biography, inventor, invention.

Most people credit Henry Ford with inventing the automobile. The fact is he didn't, but Henry Ford held many patents on automotive mechanisms. He is best remembered, however, for helping devise the factory assembly approach to production that revolutionized the auto industry by greatly reducing the time required to assemble a car

The story of Henry Ford is not of a prodigy entrepreneur or an overnight success. Ford grew up on a farm and might easily have remained in agriculture. But something stronger pulled at Ford's imagination: mechanics, machinery, understanding how things worked and what new possibilities lay in store. As a young boy, he took apart everything he got his hands on. He quickly became known around the neighborhood for fixing people's watches.

Henry Ford's parents left Ireland during the potato famine and settled in the Detroit area in the 1840s. Ford was born in what is now Dearborn, Michigan on July 30, 1863. His formal education was limited, but even as a youngster, he was handy with machinery. He constructing his first steam engine (1878) at the age of 15. He became a machinist's apprentice in Detroit at the age of 16.

In 1888, Henry Ford married Clara Bryant and moves to an 80-acre farm in what is today Dearborn. Five years later their only child Edsel Bryant Ford is born. From 1891 to 1899 he was a mechanical engineer, and later chief engineer, with the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1893 he built his first internal combustion engine, a small one-cylinder gasoline model.

In 1896, Ford invented the Quadricycle. It was the first "horseless carriage" that he actually built. It's a far cry from today's cars and even from what he produced a few years later, but in a way it's the starting point of Ford's career as a businessman. Until the Quadricycle, Ford's tinkering had been experimental, theoretical—like the gas engine he built on his kitchen table in the 1890's, which was just an engine with nothing to power. The Quadricycle showed enough popularity and potential that it launched the beginning of Ford's business ventures.

In 1899 Ford left Edison to help run the newly formed Detroit Automobile Company which produced only a few cars. Ford quit Detroit Automobile Company and began to build his own racing cars. In 1901, the Henry Ford Company is organized with Ford as chief engineer. Cars were still built essentially one at a time. Ford hoped to incorporate ideas from other industries -- standardized parts as Eli Whitney had used with gun manufacturing and George Eastman tried in photo processing -- to make the process more efficient. This idea struck others in his field as nutty, so before long, Henry resigned in a dispute with his financial backers. In 1902, the company becomes the Cadillac Motor Car Co.

His own racing cars were good enough to attract backers and even partners, Ford Motor Company was founded on June 16, 1903. The first Ford, the Model A, was being sold in Detroit a few months later. When founded, Ford Motor Company was just one of 15 car manufacturers in Michigan and 88 in the US. But as it began to turn a profit within its first few months, it became clear that Henry Ford's vision for the automotive industry was going to work, and work in a big way. During the first five years of Ford Motor Company's existence, Henry Ford, as chief engineer and later as president, directed a development and production program that started in a converted wagon shop.

As with most great enterprises, Ford Motor Company's beginnings were modest. The company had anxious moments in its infancy. Beginning in 1903, the company began using the first 19 letters of the alphabet to name new cars. The earliest record of a shipment of a Model A is July 20, 1903, approximately one month after incorporation, to a Detroit physician. With the company's first sale came hope—a young Ford Motor Company had taken its first steps.

Henry Ford's insistence that the company's future lay in the production of affordable cars for a mass market caused increasing friction between him and the other investors. As some left, Ford acquired enough stock to increase his own holdings to 58.5 percent. Henry Ford became president in 1906, replacing John S. Gray, a Detroit banker who had served as the company's first president.

In 1907, Henry Ford announced his goal for the Ford Motor Company: to create "a motor car for the great multitude." At that time, automobiles were expensive, custom-made machines. Ford's engineers took the first step towards this goal by designing the Model T, a simple, sturdy car, offering no factory options -- not even a choice of color.

He still met resistance to his ideas for mass production of a car the average worker could afford. But he stuck to his goal and finally in 1908, began production of the Model T. The company began selling his famous Model T for $850 each. The Model T was inexpensive for its day, and proved to be sturdy, reliable and easy to operate. It quickly became very popular; and soon Ford found he was unable to meet the enormous demand for his cars.

Ford's solution was to invent a moving industrial production line. By installing a moving belt in his factory, employees would be able to build cars one piece at a time, instead of one car at a time. This principle, called "division of labor," allowed workers to focus on doing one thing very well, rather than being responsible for a number of tasks.

Ford gradually adapted the production line until in 1913, his plant incorporated the first moving assembly line. Demand for the affordable car soared even as production went up: before Ford stopped making the model T in 1927, 15 million had been sold, and Ford had become the leading auto manufacturer in the country. In addition to the moving assembly line, Ford revolutionized the auto industry by increasing the pay and decreasing the hours of his employees, ensuring he could get enough and the best workers. During the Model T era, Ford bought out his shareholders so he had complete financial control of the now vast corporation. He continued to innovate, but competitors (growing more powerful though fewer in number) began to cut into Ford's market share.

Perhaps Ford Motor Company's single greatest contribution to automotive manufacturing was the moving assembly line. First implemented at the Highland Park plant (in Michigan, US) in 1913, the new technique allowed individual workers to stay in one place and perform the same task repeatedly on multiple vehicles that passed by them. The line proved tremendously efficient, helping the company far surpass the production levels of their competitors—and making the vehicles more affordable.

By early 1914 this innovation, although greatly increasing productivity, had resulted in a monthly labor turnover of 40 to 60 percent in his factory, largely because of the unpleasant monotony of assembly-line work and repeated increases in the production quotas assigned to workers. Ford met this difficulty by doubling the daily wage then standard in the industry, raising it from about $2.50 to $5. The net result was increased stability in his labor force and a substantial reduction in operating costs. These factors, coupled with the enormous increase in output made possible by new technological methods, led to an increase in company profits from $30 million in 1914 to $60 million in 1916.

Ford found his new system produced cars quickly and efficiently; so efficiently that it considerably lowered the cost of assembling the cars. He decided to pass this savings along to his customers, and in 1915 dropped the price of the Model T from $850 to $290. That year, he sold 1 million cars.

Instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing in their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Ford called it 'wage motive.' The company's use of vertical integration also proved successful, as Ford built a gigantic industrial facility on the Rouge River in Dearborn, Michigan that shipped in raw materials and shipped out finished automobiles.

Ford became interested in politics and as a successful and powerful business leader, was sometimes a participant in political affairs. In 1915, he funded a trip to Europe, where World War I was raging. He and about 170 others went -- without government support or approval -- to seek peace. The war lasted another three years. After the war Ford ran unsuccessfully for the Senate on the Democratic ticket. He never ran again, but was always outspoken on political subjects.

The years between the world wars were a period of hectic expansion. In 1917, Ford Motor Company began producing trucks and tractors. In 1919 a conflict with stockholders over the millions to be spent building the giant Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Michigan led to the company becoming wholly owned by Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, who then succeeded his father as president.

The famous Ford Model T automobile ended production in 1927. During its production run from 1908 to 1927 over 15,000,000 Model T's were produced. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, and the car which "put America on wheels".

He violently opposed labor organizations and actively worked against the United Auto Workers trying to unionize his plants. After the "Battle of the Overpass" occurred between Ford security staff and United Auto Workers union, Ford began serious negotiations with the UAW and a contract was signed in 1941.

Ford suffered an initial stroke in 1938, after which he turned over the running of his company to his son Edsel. Edsel's 1943 death brought Henry Ford out of retirement. In ill health, he ceded the presidency to his grandson Henry Ford II in September 1945, and went into retirement. He died in 1947 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 83 in Fair Lane, his Dearborn estate, and is buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.

Ford Motor Company started the last century with a single man envisioning products that would meet the needs of people in a world on the verge of high-gear industrialization. he company is beginning its second century of existence with a worldwide organization that retains and expands Henry Ford's heritage by developing products that serve the varying and ever-changing needs of people in the global community. When Henry Ford started building the Model T on an assembly line, he didn't just revolutionize the fledgling automobile industry--he changed the world.

Henry Ford was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and father of the modern assembly line used in mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As sole owner of the Ford Company he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. Ford and his family spent a good deal of time and money on charitable work. They set up an historical museum in Greenfield Village, Michigan, and most notably set up the Ford Foundation, which provides grants for research, education, and development.

Mass Production Vision

In 1907, Henry Ford announced his goal for the Ford Motor Company: to create "a motor car for the great multitude." At that time, automobiles were expensive, custom-made machines. Ford's engineers took the first step towards this goal by designing the Model T, a simple, sturdy car, offering no factory options -- not even a choice of color. The Model T, first produced in 1908, kept the same design until the last one -- number 15,000,000 -- rolled off the line in 1927.

From the start, the Model T was less expensive than most other cars, but it was still not attainable for the "multitude." Ford realized he'd need a more efficient way to produce the car in order to lower the price. He and his team

looked at other industries and found four principles that would further their goal: interchangeable parts, continuous flow, division of labor, and reducing wasted effort.

Using interchangeable parts meant making the individual pieces of the car the same every time. That way any valve would fit any engine, any steering wheel would fit any chassis. The efficiencies to be gained were proven in the assembly of standardized photography equipment pioneered by George Eastman in 1892. This meant improving the machinery and cutting tools used to make the parts. But once the machines were adjusted, a low-skilled laborer could operate them, replacing the skilled craftsperson who formerly made the parts by hand.

To improve the flow of the work, it needed to be arranged so that as one task was finished, another began, with minimum time spent in set-up. Ford was inspired by the meat-packing houses of Chicago and a grain mill conveyor belt he had seen. If he brought the work to the workers, they spent less time moving about. He adopting the Chicago meatpackers overhead trolley to auto production by installing the first automatic conveyer belt.

Then he divided the labor by breaking the assembly of the Model T into 84 distinct steps. Each worker was trained to do just one of these steps.

Ford called in Frederick Winslow Taylor, the creator of "scientific management," to do time and motion studies to determine the exact speed at which the work should proceed and the exact motions workers should use to accomplish their tasks. There by reducing wasted effort.

Ford put these principles into play gradually over five years, fine-tuning and testing as he went along. In 1913, they came together in the first moving assembly line ever used for large-scale manufacturing. Ford produced cars at a record-breaking rate. That meant he could lower the price and still make a good profit by selling more cars.

Ford had another notion, rather original in its time: the workers were also potential consumers! In 1914, Ford workers' wages were raised to $5 a day -- an excellent wage -- and they soon proved him right by buying their own Model Ts. Ford was called "a traitor to his class" by other industrialists and professionals, but he held firm in believing that well-paid workers would put up with dull work, be loyal, and buy his cars.

Ford's manufacturing principles were adopted by countless other industries. The process was so revolutionary that the term "to Fordize" meant to standardize a product and manufacture it by mass means at a price so low that the common man could afford to buy it. Henry Ford went beyond his 1907 goal of making cars affordable for all; he changed the habits of a nation, and shaped its very character.

by Henry Ford Samuel Crowther / Paperback: 296 pages / Kessinger Publishing (January 2003)

American Henry Ford, entrepreneur, inventor, and philanthropist was born in Michigan and trained as a machinist and engineer before founding, in 1903, the Ford Motor Company. This book written by Ford describes in his own words, his vision, his beliefs and his passions for the American way of life.

Barbara Mitchell, Kathy Haubrich / Paperback - 64 pages / Carolrhoda Books - 1988

A brief biography of Henry Ford with emphasis on how he came to develop fast, sturdy, and reliable racing cars that eventually gave him the idea for his Model T.

Hazel B. Aird / Paperback 192 pages / Aladdin Paperbacks - 1986

The early life of the American automotive industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company and pioneered in assembly-line methods of mass production

by Henry Ford / Hardcover: 300 pages / Productivity Press, Reprint edition (December, 1989

)This autobiography by the world's most famous automaker reveals the thinking that changed industry forever and provided the inspiration for Just-In-Time.

by Douglas Brinkley / Hardcover: 858 pages / Viking Press; (April 28, 2003)

In conjunction with its 100th anniversary, the Ford Motor Company opened its monumental archives to the unfettered research of author/historian Douglas Brinkley. Few endeavors in history can match Ford Motor Company's impact on human civilization.

by Bruce W. McCalley / Hardcover: 614 pages / Krause Publications (April 1, 1994)

Documents the development of the assembly line and the many innovations and adaptations Ford put to use in making his famous Model T ( The Tin Lizzy).

by Steven Watts / Paperback: 656 pages / Vintage (October 10, 2006)

Ford embodied both the promises and pitfalls of modern American democracy: "its devotion to opportunity, openness to new ideas, [and] lack of pretension" as well as its anti-intellectualism and "faith in the redemptive power of material goods."

DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00

When Henry Ford started building the Model T on an assembly line, he didn't just revolutionize the fledgling automobile industry--he changed the world.

DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / Biography Channel / Less than $25.00

Henry Ford was one of the great innovators of our time. When the car he invented became so popular he couldn't build them fast enough, he came up with the modern assembly plant to meet demand. The rest is history.

DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / A&E / 74281 / Less than $25.00

One illuminated America. The other put the nation on the road. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford transformed the world with their inventions. They shared a friendship that spanned decades. And the fortunes they made allowed them to create remarkable homes and estates

Henry enjoyed a childhood typical of the rural nineteenth century, spending days in a one-room school and doing farm chores. At an early age, he showed an interest in mechanical things and a dislike for farm work.Henry ford Museum presents a year by year history of the Ford Motor Company.


When founded, Ford Motor Company was just one of 15 car manufacturers in Michigan and 88 in the US. But as it began to turn a profit within its first few months, it became clear that Henry Ford's vision for the automotive industry was going to work, and work in a big way.

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He still met resistance to his ideas for mass production of a car the average worker could afford.

But he stuck to his goal and finally in 1908, began production of the Model T. Ford gradually

adapted the production line until in 1913, his plant incorporated the first moving assembly line.

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Celebrated as both a technological genius and a folk hero, Ford was the creative force behind an industry of unprecedented size and wealth that in only a few decades permanently changed the economic and social character of the United States



A radio program, heard nationally on Public Radio, that tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. Written and hosted by John Lienhard, the M.D. Anderson Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and History at the University of Houston.


Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.


The National Inventors Hall of Fame™ honors the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible. .


The official site of Ford Motor Company nad its family of brands


The Henry Ford Estate - Fair Lane, a National Historic Landmark on the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, is the former home of automaker Henry Ford and his wife Clara. The Fords lived at Fair Lane from 1915 until their deaths in 1947 and 1950. The estate includes the powerhouse, home furnishings, and grounds landscaped with Clara's advice. Come join us for an insightful look into the


Indoor/outdoor museum founded by Henry Ford includes among its millions of objects Ford's own birthplace, a reconstruction of the Bagley Avenue shed where Ford built his first automobile, many early Ford automobiles, including the Quadricycle and several Model Ts.


Founded in 1936, the foundation operated as a local philanthropy in the state of Michigan until 1950, when it expanded to become a national and international foundation. Since its inception it has been an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization. It has provided more than $12 billion for grants, projects and loans.

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The Quadricycle

It was called the Quadeicycle because it ran on four bicycle tires. The success of the little vehicle fueled Ford's automobile ambitions, leading ultimately to the founding of Ford Motor Company in 1903.


The Ford Motor Company was one of only forty-four U.S. automakers left in 1929, out of the hundreds that had entered the fray since the beginning of the century. That year, Ford, General Motors, and the newly formed Chrysler Corporation -- known then and now as the Big Three -- accounted for 80 percent of the market.


From 1908-1927, the Model T would endure with little change in its design. Henry Ford had succeeded in his quest to build a car for the masses.


There’s more to experience than ever before! Motivate your dreamers. Encourage your inventors. Inspire your radical thinkers. Spark the imaginations of your students by utilizing the incredible array of opportunities available through The Henry Ford. Advance reservations are recommended

"The only history worth a thinker's damn is the history we make today." - Henry Ford

"It will take a hundred years to tell whether he helped us or hurt us, but he certainly didn't leave us where he found us." - Will Rogers, speaking about Henry Ford

  • In 1908 the Ford company initiated production of the celebrated Model T. Until 1927, when the Model T was discontinued in favor of a more up-to-date model, the company produced and sold about 15 million cars.
  • On January 5, 1914 Henry Ford established a minimum wage of $5.00 per day in his automobile factories for an eight hour work day.
  • In the period from 1937 to 1941, the Ford company became the only major manufacturer of automobiles in the Detroit area that had not recognized any labor union as the collective bargaining representative of employees.Ford was constrained to negotiate a standard labor contract after a successful strike by the workers at his main plant at River Rouge, Michigan, in April 1941
  • Early in 1941 Ford was granted government contracts whereby he was, at first, to manufacture parts for bombers and, later, the entire airplane. By the end of World War II (1945) this plant had manufactured more than 8000 planes.

Ford was active in several other fields besides those of automobile and airplane manufacturing. In 1915 he chartered a peace ship, which carried him and a number of like-minded individuals to Europe, where they attempted without success to persuade the belligerent governments to end World War I

Advancing age obliged Ford to retire from the active direction of his gigantic enterprises in 1945. He died on April 7, 1947, in Dearborn. Ford left a personal fortune estimated at $500 to $700 million, bequeathing the largest share of his holdings in the Ford Motor Company to the Ford Foundation, a nonprofit organization.
  • Henry Ford long had an interest in plastics developed from agricultural products, especially soybeans. He cultivated a relationship with George Washington Carver for this purpose. Soybean-based plastics were used in Ford automobiles throughout the 1930s in plastic parts such as car horns, in paint, etc. This project culminated in 1942, when Ford patented an automobile made almost entirely of plastic, attached to a tubular welded frame. It weighed 30% less than a steel car, and was said to be able to withstand blows ten times greater than could steel. Furthermore, it ran on grain alcohol (ethanol) instead of gasoline. The design never caught on.
  • Ford was instrumental in developing charcoal briquets, under the brand name "Ford Charcoal". Along with his brother in law, E.G. Kingsford they used wood scraps from the Ford factory to make the briquets, The company name was later changed to "Kingsford".
  • Ford maintained a vacation residence (known as the "Ford Plantation") in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He contributed substantially to the community, building a chapel and schoolhouse and employing a large number of local residents.
  • Ford had an interest in "Americana". In the 1920s, Ford began work to turn Sudbury, Massachusetts into a themed historical village. He moved the schoolhouse (supposedly) referred to in the nursery rhyme, Mary had a little lamb from Sterling, Massachusetts and purchased the historical Wayside Inn. This plan never saw fruition, but Ford repeated it with the creation of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. It may have inspired the creation of Old Sturbridge Village as well. About the same time, he began collecting materials for his museum, which had a theme of practical technology. It was opened in 1929 as the Edison Institute and, although greatly modernized, remains open today.
  • By 1921, Ford Motor Co.dominates auto production with 55 percent of industry's total output.
  • The Ford Motor Company was one of only forty-four U.S. automakers left in 1929, out of the hundreds that had entered the fray since the beginning of the century. That year, Ford, General Motors, and the newly formed Chrysler Corporation -- known then and now as the Big Three -- accounted for 80 percent of the market.
  • Ford was the winner of the award of Car Entrepreneur of the Century in 1999.
  • Patent # 747,909 issued December 22, 1903 for motor-vehicle

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