He Invented The Modern Age
During the early 20th century, a revolution in the automobile industry was happening, and it was all because of Henry Ford, a brilliant inventor and mechanic who founded the Ford Motor Company. While the automobile industry was still young, Ford pushed the industry forward with radical new ideas of manufacturing and types of vehicles. Ford and Ford Motor Company changed the car industry forever with their invention of the world’s first moving automobile assembly line and the use of interchangeable parts to create the country’s first affordable automobile.
Henry Ford’s dream of creating the Ford Motor Company and becoming a mechanic began when he was a child. It was said by Ford’s mother, Mary, that he was born curious and a mechanic (“Biography”). Born in 1863 and raised on a farm, he was always interested in machines. There were two major events that made Ford want to become a mechanic. First, on his 13th birthday, he received a watch . Like most kids of his age, he was able to take the watch apart, but unlike most boys, he was able to put it back together. It was times like these where Ford was able to hone his natural ability for machinery. Second, was when Ford first saw a working machine. It was not long after his mother’s death when he was going along with his father and there was an old farm machine. The machine had its own engine and was able to propel itself. These events were what made him decide that he wanted to leave the hard work of farming and be part of the modern age that was just being formed.
The day Ford knew that he wanted to work with automobiles was on a trip to Detroit in 1891. The industrial age was rooting in the cities and Ford wanted in. In 1891, Ford moved with his wife, Clara, to Detroit, just after getting married (Biography). The one thing that caught Ford’s eye in their new town was the gasoline-powered vehicles motoring down the streets. Newly inspired, Ford set out to make the vehicle that was taking shape in his mind. In 1896, with the help of some friends, Ford made his first car, the Quadricycle (pictured on the right). A few years later, Ford took a local backer on a ride and when it was over, they were in business (Biography). The Detroit automobile company opened with Ford as the mechanical superintendent, but this venture only lasted for three years since Ford wanted to spread his own name and make vehicles the way he wanted to (Ford 23). Ford was able to create cars, but now he needed to be able to mass produce enough to start a company. But Ford had not lost hope, as he decided to turn to an alternative to spread his name, car racing.
Ford began to make racers because he thought it was a good way to spread his name in the burgeoning car industry, and this ultimately led to the creation of Ford Motor Company (Ford 37). Ford began finding success through racing, creating vehicles that crushed most of the competition. However, racing led to a parting of ways between he and his backers. They wanted Ford to focus on producing automobiles and not racing.However, Ford continued, and soon through racing he had the backers to start Ford Motor Company. Ford’s love for mechanics and vehicles ever since he was a child, had led him down the path of making the Ford Motor Company.
The Ford Motor Company’s success was partly due to its creation of the most revolutionizing and influential car in U.S. history, the Model T. The company’s first vehicle was the Model A, which ended up selling relatively well, while others like the Model K were complete failures (Biography). The company’s cars were made just like every other company’s. They were luxurious and expensive, a rich man’s plaything. Ford was able to realize that he could sell more vehicles if they could be available to the everyman. This is exactly what Ford did with the Model T in 1908 (Biography). This vehicle was so revolutionizing that it was able to shape the way most vehicles were made forever. The Model T was cheap, making it available to most people. Despite this, it was a very reliable and well functioning car. Because of its simplicity, the car was much easier to manufacture compared to most automobiles at the time. The Model T soon made Ford Motor Company the largest automobile production company in the world ( Ford 142). There were constant demands for the vehicle and in time, a Model T would be seen more often on the streets than all vehicle models from all companies combined. Ford’s idea of making cheap cars and mass producing them, became a worldwide known phenomenon.
Ford’s introduction of the moving assembly line to the automobile industry, revolutionized the way cars were manufactured and produced and led to the immense success of the Model T and by extension the Ford Motor Company. Ford’s method of mass production to lower the overall price of his product became known as a “Fordism.” The term Fordism became an idea which many automobile companies followed on a path to success (Biography). This meant that with a higher production rate of automobiles, prices couldbe lowered to suit the financial status of the ordinary man. Vehicles like the Model T, because of their simplicity and design, were easy to produce. Fordism is one of the largest contributions Ford had on the automobile industry. It allowed for the car to be available to all people. Mass production and Fordism were mainly due to the moving assembly line.
The revolutionizing Model T was in the market now and everybody wanted one. Because of the huge success of the Model T, Ford Motor Company was growing very fast, but also were the demands for the Model T. Even though Ford had his workers producing Model Ts very quickly, it was not enough. Ford needed a way to produce cars even more efficiently, but in a way that would not spend much money. On a trip to Chicago in 1912, Ford came across a meat packaging company (Biography). The factory was using a moving assembly line. A moving assembly line is an arrangement of machines, tools, and workers in which a product is assembled by having each perform a specific operation on an incomplete product as it passes by in a series of stations organized in a direct path. Ford believed that if implemented this in the creation of his automobiles, he would get a much faster production rate. Nobody believed that a moving assembly line would work in the automobile industry, but in 1913, Ford installed the world’s first automobile moving assembly line (Biography). Today this is known as the greatest contribution to the manufacturing of automobiles. A new Model T’s rolled off the assemebly line every 90 minutes! Over the years, Ford could create a Model T every ten seconds. With the help of the moving assembly line, in 1927, 15 million Model Ts had been sold, which was half of all cars that had been sold at the time (Biography). Although the moving assembly line was very important in increasing the production rate of vehicles, there was another major contributor.
Ford’s introduction of interchangeable parts helped make manufacturing a faster process and change the way vehicles were produced. Interchangeable parts were identical parts from a design that were used to create an unlimited amount of replicas of a product. Ford assembly lines now allowed for the sequential manufacturing of certain products in a continuous fashion. This concept was popularized by Ford in the automobile industry and contributed much to the speed of manufacturing. Since an infinite amount of replicas could be made, the cost of vehicles could go down.
Ford and Ford Motor Company were able to change the automobile industry forever with genius and revolutionizing contributions. Ford introduced the moving assembly line to the car industry. This concept helped drop the assembly of a vehicle tenfold. The Model T, with the help of the moving assembly line, shaped the way most cars would forever be made. Its simplicity and low cost allowed the rich man’s play toy to be available to the common man. Interchangeable parts helped immensely in making manufacturing a faster process. Ford single-handedly changed the world, with his brilliant ideas and brain, Ford helped shape the automobile industry, but most importantly our lives.