The Early Years Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863. He was born on a farm near Dearborn, Michigan.
Henry Ford only went to school for eight years. As a young boy he was fascinated with how things worked. He loved to take apart watches to see how they functioned. Soon he was able to put watches back together and even fixed ones that broke.
As a young man, Ford knew that he didn’t want to work on the farm. He left home to work as a machinist (a person who works with machines). He was later hired by the Westinghouse company to service their steam engines.
The Inventing Years In 1891, Ford began working with a famous inventor named Thomas Edison at a company called The Edison Illuminating Co. Here his creativity was sparked and he began inventing. He wanted to make a gasoline powered engine.
Ford’s First Gasoline Powered Car In 1896, Henry Ford completed his first vehicle that was powered by gasoline instead of steam like other cars of his time. This car was called the Quadricycle.
Ford liked the Quadricycle, but he wanted to keep experimenting and creating cars until he made one that he felt was perfect.
Company Owner In 1903, Ford started his own company called the Ford Motor Company. He wanted to make cars that the ordinary person, like you and me, could afford. But making one car was very expensive and took a long time to build. Only wealthy people were able to afford cars.
On October 1, 1908, after lots of hard work, Ford introduced his new car. It was called the Model T. It had many important innovations—such as the steering wheel on the left, which every other company soon copied.
While his workers worked, Ford watched them closely and noticed that they spent a lot of time getting the materials they needed to do the job. It took the workers a long time to build a car. Henry wanted to build more cars in a faster way. He wondered if he could find a way to help the workers to get the materials they needed quickly.
Owner and Innovator Henry knew there had to be a faster and better way to put the cars together. So in 1913-1914, Henry and his engineers designed conveyor belts that ran down long tables carrying parts and pieces that needed to be put together.
Ford’s introduction of the moving assembly belts into his plants allowed him to produce more cars in a shorter amount of time. Instead of the worker walking to the car, the car came to the worker who stayed in one place. Each worker had only one job to do and then the car would move on.
Before the assembly line, it took 14 hours to build one car. With the assembly line, workers could build one car every 93 minutes. This meant that Ford could make more cars to sell at a cheaper price. Now many more people could afford to buy a car. On the next slide watch this old movie that shows the inside of a factory. Can you see the assembly lines?
Company Pride With all of the cars Ford could now make and sell, he needed more workers in his factories. He decided to pay them $5.oo an hour and started an 8 hour workday. His workers were well-paid and well-treated. They were proud to work at the Ford Motor Company.
Henry Ford died in his home in Michigan in 1947. He is buried in Ford Cemetery in Detroit.
Factories Today Factories today still use the assembly line to make large amounts of their products quickly. Henry Ford’s ideas helped to shape American history.