Henry Ford was born on the 30th of July 1863 to Henry and Mary Ford and died on the 7th of April 1947, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. From an early age, Henry loved to take things apart and put them back together again just to see how they worked. Although Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle class Americans could afford.
In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that would strongly impact the landscape of the twentieth century, his introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry.
His father gave him a pocket watch in his early teens. At 15, Ford dismantled and reassembled the timepieces of friends and neighbours dozens of times, gaining the reputation of a watch repairman.
In 1891, Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company. After his promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893, he had enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on gasoline engines.
These experiments culminated in 1896 with the completion of a self-propelled vehicle which he named the Ford Quadricycle. The Model T was introduced on October 1, 1908.
It had the steering wheel on the left, which every other company soon copied. The entire engine and transmission were enclosed; the four cylinders were cast in a solid block; the suspension used two semi-elliptic springs.
Ford created a huge publicity machine in Detroit to ensure every newspaper carried stories and ads about the new product. Ford’s network of local dealers made the car ubiquitous in almost every city in North America.
As independent dealers, the franchises grew rich and publicized not just the Ford but the concept of automobile; local motor clubs sprang up to help new drivers and to encourage exploring the countryside. Ford was always eager to sell to farmers, who looked on the vehicle as a commercial device to help their business.
By 1926, flagging sales of the Model T finally convinced Henry to make a new model. He pursued the project with a great deal of technical expertise in design of the engine, chassis, and other mechanical necessities, while leaving the body design to his son.
Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($120 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. He cut the workday from nine to eight hours in order to convert the factory to a three-shift workday. Ford’s mass-production techniques would eventually allow for the manufacture of a Model T every 24 seconds.
Henry Ford begins secretly buying hundreds of acres of farmland along the River Rouge to build what would become known as the Rouge Plant. In 1938 and 1941, Henry Ford suffered strokes.
Outside the Rouge, 50,000 Ford employees refuse to work until Ford agrees to meet union demands calling for higher wages, overtime pay, and job security. Ford declares he would rather shut down his factories than give in to the union. On April 7, 1947, Henry Ford passed away at age 83.