Henry T. Ford
Henry Ford once said:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or at eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”.
– Henry Ford
Henry T. Ford, pioneering automotive engineer, is mostly credited forinventing the automobile. The fact is he did not, he used what was developed and studied in the automobile industry to develop his own ideas and revolutionized the automotive industry. His creativity made possible for him to develop the assembly line that sparked the auto production.
Henry Ford was born near Dearborn, Michigan, on July 30, 1863. His family had nothing to do with the automobile, they were simple farmers. Henry lived on the farm that was run by his father who was an Irish man, and his mother who was Dutch, his mother died when he was 12. After his mother death he helped out around the family farm in summer and in winter attended a one-room school. From the young age he was fascinating my moving mechanical things. Form the young age he was fascinated by watches and clocks. He went around the countryside doing repair work without pay, for him all mattered was to play with the machinery of the watch. From his personal experience on the farm he was fascinated my farm machines that reduced the drudgery of farm chores. We can notice there was a lot of a kid in him, and to go around or making his chores easier he invented his own farm machines. His fascination with machines grew as he grew older. At the age of thirteen, for the first time he saw a coal-fired steam engine that was rolling along a long rural road. From that point he grew more fascinated about machines that moved about a roads without any manpower. At the age of sixteen, and against the wishes of his father, he left the home farm for Detroit, where he found work as a mechanic’s apprentice. He was faced with low paying jobs. Working for $2.50 in mechanics shop then moved to watchmaker were he worked for four hours and was paid $2 a week. Steadily he worked him self up in Edison Illuminating Company, and became a chief engineer there. In 1884 he took charge of a farm his father gave him. At twenty-four he married Clara Bryant and settled at his farm. But Ford did not stay long at the farm after two years he went back to Detroit and worked as a night engineer for the Detroit Edison Company.
In the following he was still fascinated by building he own automobile. he was mostly encouraged for doing this by his wife, who was called by her friends “The Believer”, because she encouraged his plans to build a horseless carriage from their earliest days together. Henry Ford followed his interest in finding the engine for his first car. He was interested in steam engines and turbines that produced electricity for Detroit Edison; investors in the United States and Europe were adapting such engines to small passenger vehicles. On January 29, 1886, Karl Benz of Germany received a patent for primitive gas fueled car. This gave the Americans the idea of creating their own gas-fuel-powered car. This can be surprising but the first one to do this was not Henry Ford. In 1893, Charles and Frank Duryea, of Springfield, Massachusetts, built the first gas-powered vehicle in the United States. In the 1890’s, any mechanic with tolls and workbench could have been a titan in automotive developing industry. One of them was Henry Ford whose passion for his own horse less carriage have not died. Even though he worked for Edison, in 1891 he presented a blue print of his internal combustion engine, (which wasn’t much of a blue print because it was drawn on the back of a piece music) to his supportive wife Clara. Henry
worked intensively on developing the engine for the next two years. Finally he made a successful test of the engine on Christmas Eve in kitchen sink. After the successful testing of his engine he became obsessed with the idea of his car. He worked nights and days in the back of the house in a small shed. He was called by his neighbors “Crazy Henry”. But finally on June 4, 1896, at 2 A.M. in the morning with large noise and punching a large hole in the wall of the shed, the wheel of the automobile emerged. Ford had developed a two-cylinder engine over the rear axle that developed four horsepower, a single seat fitted in a boxlike body, an electric bell for a horn, and a steering lever instead of a wheel. In the weeks that followed he could be seen driving around in the automobile around Detroit. There was a lot of objection to the automobile. It was loud and it scared the horses when he drove it around Detroit. Later on he was required to get a license for the car. I guess he was the first one to get a legal paper the allowed to drive such
vehicles on the streets.
We can’t forget about around what people Ford worked. One of them was Thomas A. Edison for whom Ford worked. For many years Edison was Ford’s idol for years. They finally came to a meeting where Edison asked to meet the young inventor. This might be seen as another inspiration for Ford. At the meeting Edison told Ford; “Young man, you have the right idea,” Edison said. “Keep right at it”. That was the paths that ford followed in his later years. He showed his businessman side when he first sold his first and only prototype for $200. For the next three years he watched the American automobile industry develop. Even though most of the cars still were made by foreign countries, some thirty American manufacturers made 2,500 cars, most of them were based in New England. In 1898 many industries that were making bicycles changed their production form bicycles to
automobiles. This kept the factories busy because bicycle productions were going down. Later that year, thirty-six year old Henry Ford was offered a senior and part ownership of a new company, The Detroit Co. Ford quit the Edison Illuminating Company. At the same in Detroit new company emerged the Oldsmobile. The Detroit Automobile Co. failed, because it did not produce any cars, and Henry Ford was forced out of the company by angry investors. Th firm survived, emerging from reorganization as the Cadillac Motor Car Company.
Mass PRODUCTION, Automobile PRODUCTION, The ASEMBLY LINE and Rise of FORD MOTOR COMPANY
In early 1900’s automobile was just a new emerging machine. This was time of large-scale Industrial developments. To promote his cars Henry Ford organized car races for which he designed special cars that would interest large audience this way gain more interest in this industry. In these races auto manufacturers sought to prove the roadworthiness by presenting their cars to the public. These cars were pushed to their very limits including speed, sturdiness, reliability and style. In 1903, a coal merchant Alexander Malcomson agreed to back Ford in a new venture deal. Ford and Malcomson formed the Ford Motor Company. The money they started with was $28,000 raised in cash. Other money came from 11 stockholders. One investor put just $2,500 into Ford’s venture. The final starting capital was $100,000. Other investments in the new company came in form of equipment. The Dodge brothers, John and Horace agreed to supply the Engines. In those days major components for the cars were purchased from other companies a common practice in those days. Cars were developed and assembled in parts, from ready-made parts. 1903, Ford’s 125 workers made 1,700 cars in three different models. Henry ford wasn’t the full owner of the company. His chance to come to the top came later that year. One of the owners Malcomson decided to invest in another automobile company. When that failed he was forced to sell all his assets in ford, Henry Ford bought all those assets from him which positioned him on a high level of ownership. But still
he wasn’t the full owner. Another major stockholder of the company was General Manager, then vice president and secretary of treasury James Couzens. Still as the Head of the company Ford had his hands on enormous cash reserves, this allowed him to plan new facility for production of the Model T. In 1910 he opened a new factory. In 1913 he brought new changes that would revolutionize the automobile industry. He started using the
1913 brought new changes to the FORD MOTOR COMPANY. Ford started using the assembly-line techniques for mass production. By that year The Model T was so popular that henry Ford dropped the price from $850 to $290 due to new technology used for production. Henry Ford wasn’t the first one to use the idea of assembly line. He even wasn’t the one who developed the idea of assembly line. This idea came from Frederick Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gliberth, who developed ways to study the time and motions for a worker to perform a task. According to their study the worker is trained to the best method of doing job he can. “Taylorization” it was called, it was much criticized for being unresponsive to the physical and psychological needs of working people, due to doing the same job over and over again. Ford was the first one to use the mass production techniques. He used the assembly line. Most automobiles were produced by mass production wit each assembly line designed for a specific car. The assembly line was conveyor belt on which parts of the car were added. The vehicle was passed down the line as each worker performed a certain job on it adding a new part of the car. Ford also raised the standard wage from $2.50 to $5. This increased the stability in his labor force and reduction in operating costs. He modernized his factories thus this resulted in enormous increase in output of production. The company gained profits from $30 million on 1914 to $60 million in 1916. Until 1927 Model T was the most popular car sold In United States the same year the production of that car was stopped to bring a more up-to-date model, the company produced and sold about 15 million cars. After 1930 Ford lost its position as the leading car manufacturer due to slow changes in modernization in their models. After 1930 even though Ford adopted a new plan to modernize their cars it was too late to regain its top position. Between 1937 a 1941 ford company became the only major manufacturer of automobiles in the Detroit area that had not recognized any
labor unions. At hearings before the National Labor Board ford was found guilty of repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act. Ford was forced to negotiate a labor contract with a union after a strike was successfully held at the main plant at river Rouge, Michigan, in April 1941.During the W.W.II era Ford was granted government contracts for which he manufactured war materials like: parts for the bombers and later, the entire airplane. By the end of W.W.II (1945) one of his plants manufactured more than 8,000 planes.
Henry ford died on April 7,1947, in Dearborn. Ford left a personal fortune at $500 to $700 million, giving large shares of the money to Ford Foundation, a nonprofit organization. The Ford Motor Company was taken over by grandson of Henry Ford, Henry Ford II who carried his ownership until his death in 1987.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or at eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable, regardless of physical capacity.”
-Henry T. Ford