One of the most admirable men in American history, Henry Ford made significant contributions to the world of industrial production and especially within the automobile industry. Most recognized for his work in optimizing automobile production through the use of the assembly-line, Ford greatly contributed to the modern day industrial practice.
Henry Ford was born in rural Michigan to a farming family on July 30th, 1863. Several biographies of Henry Ford mention Ford’s early recognizable talent and aptitude for mechanisms. One story regarding Ford’s youth mentions a watch that was gifted to Ford and which Ford, at age 15 unassembled and reassembled effortlessly. As a result, he soon became known for his ability to repair watches (“Henry Ford Biography” 1). At the young age of 16, Ford moved to Detroit and assumed an apprenticeship as a machinist (“Henry Ford Biography” 1). Starting at the bottom of the Edison Illuminating Company, Ford quickly worked his way up to become chief engineering in 1893. He gained the favor of Thomas Edison during this time and Edison served as one of Ford’s greatest mentors (Pettinger 1). During his time as the Chief Editor for Edison’s company, he developed the Ford Motor Company and began to develop the innovative petrol drive quadricycle which ended up becoming the Model T motor car which he launched in 1908 and which he is most known for developing. Ford died in 1983 from a cerebral hemorrhage. At the time of his death, he was 83 years old (“Henry Ford Biography” 1).
Henry Ford can arguably be considered one of the greatest American businessmen ever to live, making several contributions to the industrial and automotive world. For one, Henry Ford’s developments made in the early years of the Ford Motor Company were paramount to the present state of automobile manufacturing and the industry in general. For one the development of the Model T in 1908 set Ford’s company to the forefront of automobile development. The Model T was designed to be “simple to drive and cheap to repair” which led to the Model T representing “half of all cars in America in 1918” (“Henry Ford Biography” 1). Another great accomplishment was Ford’s optimization of the production line process through his commercialization of the assembly line method of production as well as his ability to identify new methods of cutting production costs. Most famously, one such way to cut cost was his “famous decision to give customers any colour they [chose] so long as it [was] black” since the color black was the cheapest to produce due to its very quick drying time (Pettinger 1).
Henry Ford also made great strides for the American economy and the American worker. Henry Ford is famous for offering a $5 per day wage in 1914, which was considered a high wage for assembly line workers during this time. For Ford, offering a higher wage encouraged productivity and served as a way to maintain loyal, hard-working employees. This higher wage also allowed the worker to be able to afford the cars which they were helping to produce, adding to the overall benefit of the company as well as the American economy (Pettinger 1).
Overall, Henry Ford’s contributions to the American economy and the world of industrial production make him one of the most admirable business men of all time. His innovative Model T car set the standard for American automobiles and his commercialization of assembly-line style manufacturing set the tone for modern, efficient, and cost-effective industrial production.
- “Henry Ford.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 15 Sep. 2014.
- Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Henry Ford.” BiographyOnline. Oxford, 2009. Web. 15 Sep. 2014./li>