Who is Henry Ford? The man who invented the automobile is the response received by 7 out of 10 college students when proposed with this question. The other 3 responded with the man who invented the Model T and when asked further how he developed that they went blank. So why the misconception on a man who without we would not have roughly 600 million passenger cars today around the world, which averages to about 1 per ever 11 individuals. (Brinkley 243) That fact alone puts Henry Ford in a category in history of individuals whom without the world would be quite different.
Was Henry Ford from the start set up for this role of changing the world? Born in a small village and living on a farm in Michigan some might think not. (Watts 15) But some also think he invented the automobile. Ford took a lot from the farm life style to get to the point of starting up Ford Motor Company. Despising farm work was a great inspiration for Ford but without the invention of the automobile in France, the eagerness that the United States welcomed the concept of the invention of the automobile, and Ransom E.
Olds, who was the first man to bring the automobile into mass production in the United States, the stage would not be set for Ford to create the evolution he had. (Sloan 9-15) Before founding Ford Motors Company Ford had quite a few set backs and experiences with other companies in the automobile industry. Fords determination led him to overcome these obstacles and resulting in Ford Motor Company being founded. Ford Motor Company produced the Model T and the Model T had success on its own because of its availability to the average American.
(Douglas 123) Ford had a different approach then ever other business man had about the automobile production, he did not see the only way of making earnings was to pocket money, he wanted to create mass production. That is when Henry Ford applied the concept he had created which we know as the assembly line. That is the basic cause of and affect of creations established from Henry Ford. But was this easy, did Henry Ford just get in the business and succeed from the start? Let’s just answer that question without an assumption, not even close.
Seventeen years before the founding of Ford Motors Company a man by the name of Gottlieb Daimler had demonstrated a makeshift gasoline motorcar on the streets of Paris. (Brinkley 20) Daimler was not only the inventor of the first automobile he also invented the high speed internal combustion gasoline engine, and after inventing that applied this invention to the creation of the first self propelled vehicle. (Brinkley 21) Because of this invention France was leading the world in the production of the motorcar.
(Brinkley 22) In 1903 France had surpassed the United States by producing 5000 more cars than us, this was the last year they would top the United States, and also coincidently the year that Ford Motor Co. was founded. (Brinkley 22) The United States was not only ready for this invention as an individual but also with resources. By 1890 the United States had one third of the worlds iron and steel. (Sward 15) Americas asset that could that be ignored was that they had the most wide ranging railroad system in the world.
(Sward 15) This meaning that they had the largest prospect of users for this invention and attaining the most distance of utter land. The United States was eager for the idea of the product, one that was affordable, could run properly, and practical for there lifestyle during this time period. (Sloan 122) But that took 10 years to receive because when the car was first produced in the United States every part of it was completed by hand and that resulted in quite a pricey penny. (Brinkley 63) In 1899 Ransom E. Olds whom managed Olds Motor Works, began his production of the original Oldsmobile.
(Brinkley 74) Olds was the first in the United States to create a factory that was just for the production of the automobile the followers of Olds idea were unbelievable. (Brinkley 74) Olds is even referred to as the “father” of automotive mass production. (Brinkley 74) But the automobiles may have sold for a cheaper penny but when you create a new method of doing things it cannot just be put into action and succeed because the inexperience with the factory methods the automobiles were equally unreliable and unrefined.
These changes in history of the automobile really were just perfect for such a zealous man like Henry Ford. Henry Ford was born in Michigan in 1863 his father was a modestly successful farmer. (Sward 18) Growing up on a farm really was how Ford got the drive for what he aspired to but this drive was created with his hatred for farm work. Ford despised all the labor that had to be done throughout the day. Ford described in his biography that the only thing that kept him goingwhile living on his fathers farm was “fiddling with machinery”.
(Sward 19) Ford would constantly fix things around the farm he completed lots of it with trial and error but taking apart the broken items and then working on putting them back together, he would even go to neighbors and ask if they had anything that needed to be repaired when everything was completed that needed fixing at his fathers farm. (Wattz 9) 1879 Ford set out to follow the machinist’s trade and left the farm heading for Detroit. (Sward 22) Ford was hired right away to work as a machinist’s apprentice, but he never worked to hard he always wandered around the factory to see what everyone else was doing.
(Sward 22) After 8 years of working on machinery, Ford headed back to his fathers farm. (Sward 23) Now 24 and Ford had the wit to grasp what he could not quite understand as a child on the farm that the farm life was not for him. (Sward 24) Ford left again after 2 years and had been experimenting those 2 years with tasks that invoked the tinkering characteristic he so strongly possessed. (Sward 24) Ford went to work at the Edison Illuminating Company were he stayed employed for 11 years.
(Sward 24) In 1892 when Duryea shocked everyone with his invention of the first automobile like many other mechanics Ford was determined to make a car of his own. (Brinkley 82) Ford had to remain at his job because of basic need so it was even harder for him to complete this task that so many other individuals were striving to complete. It was trying and trying again and that was what Ford had been doing with items at the farm at such a young age that he was determined to complete the task. Ford had the luck of meeting Charles B. King who was also attempting to complete the same task as Ford.
(Brinkley 129) But King’s attempt was successful before Ford which had to do a lot with the advancement King had educationally and with experience when it came to machinery and the automobile. (Brinkley 129) In 1894 King’s automobile had a trial run but after that King decided he would head to Paris to study the French auto industry because he assumed that his creation here was probably already outdated by the French inventers, and lucky for Ford, King gave him a present before he departed of all his parts and designs of the car he had demonstrated in 1894.
(Brinkley 130) In 1896 Ford created his first successful work the automobile itself was nothing different or spectacular but what it did for Ford was complete his first set out task and continue to the next. (Sward 40) Ford completed two more experimental cars after thatand was waiting for the moment he could dedicate himself fully to what he loved, the automobile. (Sward 40) By 1899 Ford was quite the established individual in the business with being credited to the creation of three automobiles.
(Sward 41) Individuals who wanted to start a business approached Ford and this was what he was waiting for so he accepted and became the chief engineer for Detroit Automobile Co. (Wattz 102) Is Detroit Automobile Company were Ford success started? Not quite Ford actually failed at manufacturing he used a lot of the budget for a high priced racing automobile in an attempt to perfect it. (Wattz 103) Ford resigned and in one year reattempted to enter the market this time as manager for the Ford Automobile Company. (Wattz 103) But yet again Ford repeated his mistake, and the company lasted one single year.
(Wattz 103) Fords success rate was not looking prosperous but he was determined to get into the industry and knowing Ford he does not give up or fail so he went back to correct what he had failed at when working for Detroit Automobile Company. Ford focused on perfecting the racing automobile he was working on at the company he did not have much interest in the racing events themselves but just wanted to show his work and the success it would bring in hopes of gaining attention and getting one more chance in the manufacturing industry.
Ford characteristic of determination created just that with his first distinguished success at a racing event. Ford had produced his most famous racer automobile by the time he decided it was time to exit the racing industry in 1902. (Brinkley 302) The automobile was called the “999” Ford was not willing to risk his life driving the automobile because of the speed the car was built to reach. (Brinkley 302) Ford hired a driver to race with the “999” in a popular 3 mile race. (Brinkley 303) The “999” finished half a mile in front of the closest racer whom was Alex Y. Malcomson.
Malcomson was a successful coal dealer who was getting ready to invest a moderate fortune in the automobile business. (Brinkley 303) Took Ford failing for two companies, working with determination to prove that the failure was not a representation of his work, and a heck of a automobile to get him into business. Malcomson knew what he wanted to do but was lacking an automotive inventor and after Ford’s creation of “999” he choose Ford as that man. (Sward 62) Ford and Malcomson joined forces and created Ford Motors Company but did not just get straight to work it took them 7 months to lay out what needed to be done.
(Sward 63)Ford was suppose to create an sample automobile that could beat the competition and Malcomson had to deal with all the financial needs to get the corporation running. Ford Motor Co. was successful from the start. Selling more than 1700 cars in the first 15 months of the company opening. (Sward 70) Ford Motors was at is limit of success and needed to decide which automobile was best suited for the market and this is were Ford made his fortune and created his greatest input to modern times. (Sward 70) The first 5 years while Ford Motors was in business it had developed 8 different automobiles.
(Sloan 90) The first model in 1903 was set at a reasonable price and sold but after that in 1905 and 1906 Ford Motors had created automobiles that’s prices had ranged from one thousand to two thousand dollars. (Sloan 92) This drastically affected sales and everyone was concerned in the company so they lowered the price the next year and sales went up. Ford recognized that the lower the price the higher the profit, which is what the company had proved. Ford knew that to make the prices even lower that car would have to be as basic as it gets and the market he wanted to appeal to was everyone all the way down to the farmer.
Ford envisioned it to be able to do everything he had despised as a child on the farm. The product that Ford created from this vision was the Model T. It was an automobile made to complete what was needed from it, durability, performance, strong, and the key to it all affordable. (Brinkley 253) The Model T sold for eight hundred fifty dollars. (Brinkley 259) Model T was instantly successful and for clear reasons and on top of it the automobile was simple in terms of mechanical principle that it could be put together quick and mastered to be put together by a new mechanic.
With just one year of being on the market the automobile was established as a best seller and a leading moneymaker. (Brinkley 280) Ford sold 11,000 cars and he took over the industry by exceeding any producer or any profit made. (Brinkley 280) But with the product in such high demand it was soon established that the method of production needed to be altered to continue success for the quickly growing company. The process of putting the automobile together was one mechanic who was duty bound to move around in order to complete the car from bare frame to the completed automobile.
(Sward 71) Ford created minor changes by bringing all the tools needed in bins closer to the automobile so every time a new step of putting the car together had to be done themechanic did not have to run to go get the correct parts and tools. (Sward 73) But this was not enough and Ford knew it so he called in a factory expert, Walter E. Flanders. (Sloan 157) Ford proposed a task for Flanders complete 10,000 cars in one year and he would be paid a bonus of twenty thousand dollars.
(Sloan 157) Flanders took on the task and went right to work by rearranging the equipment in the factor to make more efficient for the production. Flanders did successfully complete 10,000 cars and thanks to him Ford was now equipped with what was necessary for mass production and even more influential for Ford was what he had learned from Flanders work. (Sloan 163) Ford purchased a bigger factory and wanted to get straight to work applying what he had learned from Flanders but yet again this was a task that Ford would not complete quickly or easily.
For 12 years Ford and his workers would alter a step of assembling an automobile and realize it worked in one aspect but prolonged another. (Sward 90) Ford Motors did this process over and over until at last Ford realized what he thought might be the solution he wanted to strive for straight line production, placing what was needed in lines vertically so that as going thru putting together the automobile least amount of time would be wasted and they would have everything needed for each car in a long line.
But this method was quickly outgrown by Ford Motors in 1913 they adjusted the method by giving each work a more narrow down task and they would just move from car to car completing that task. (Sward 92) This had positives but caused more cautious then the factory had ever seen people were constantly pushing against each other and confusion was being created. Ford Motors growth was not helping this stump in production because it was just getting more and more demands on the Model T. The demand for it was increasing every day and something had to be changed.
The method of putting a car together from start to finish in motion was Ford and his men’s next inspiration. (Sward 100) They were ready in 1913 to put it to the test and the moving final assembly was to say the least successful it could produce a Model T automobile in less than half the time it had previously taken. (Sward 102) Fords next invention was by accident when one of the assembly lines had broken because of too much weight and force on. (Wattz 267) This resulted in Ford creating the first complete continuing conveyor for the assembly of the car.
(Wattz 297) This made the process of assembling a car completely down to 93 minutes, now one tenth of the time it had taken 8 months before that. (Wattz 268) After this the rest was history, Ford continued to set multiple records and brought the company higher in every way, he created an empire. (Wattz 285) The story of Henry Ford is one with many setbacks and many accomplishments. The history changing events of the automobile itself with the first automobile and the first time it was brought to the United States to be mass produced started the spark for Ford.
It leads to Fords first attempt and completion of an automobile. Leading to all the companies Ford worked for and ultimately to the creation of Ford Motors Company itself. The Model T the golden creation that came out of the company and then the assembly line that let that creation keep going successfully. Henry Ford was not educated and learned most of all he knew from trial and error and other individuals that was experienced and educated. But we cannot rule out Fords ambition, energy, mechanical genius, determination, and will to never stop without completing a task.
All these characteristics merged with a mechanic from a farm created a man who created an empire that changed the world to this day. Henry Ford did not create the first automobile he created evolution in means of transportation, to say the least. Bibliography Douglas Brinkley, Wheels for the World (New York: Viking Penguin, 2003) Alfred P. Sloan, Jr, My Years With General Motors (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1963) Keith Sward, The Legend of Henry Ford (New York: Atheneum, 1968) Steven Watts, The People’s Tycoon Henry Ford and the American Century (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)