Throughout history there have only been a select number of honorable revolutionary inventions that instantly ingrained the evolvement of today’s society, including a key invention, the automobile. Today, there are 1.2 billion cars driving around our wild world today and about 10% of the population owns a car. Many people do not know of the early hardships and difficulties that went into creating this revolutionary form of transportation, however you might of heard of the brilliant small-time boy from Detroit by the name of Henry Ford. Before the invention of the car, people had to travel via trains, horses and even carriages. However in 1903, everything changed for America when Henry created Ford Motor Company. This company changed America forever but Ford is not just responsible for the Invention of the Model T, however he is responsible for many more revolutionary inventions like the first standardized interchangeable parts, production plants and even the first modern assembly lines that changed America for the greater good.
Henry Ford was born on July 30th, 1863 in a small town in Michigan. After working as a watch repairman for a few years, he decided to move to Detroit following the loss of his mother. Few years past in which he started a job with the Edison Illuminating Company, where he began to be fascinated with engines which lead him to become Thomas Edison’s Chief Engineer. (Pic 1) During his off hours after he had his first kid, he began to spend his time on attempting to build an effective gasoline-powered horseless carriage, or what is today known as an automobile. Just after 1896, Ford completed what he called the “Quadricycle,” which consisted of a light metal frame fitted with four bicycle wheels and powered by a two cylinder, four-horsepower gasoline engine. After meeting with Thomas Edison many times, Edison began to approve and encourage Ford’s “Quadricycle”. After resigning from Edison Illuminating Company, Ford wanted to create his own company and with his hard work and many hours put into his life goal, Ford Motor Company was Established.
Ford Motor Company was founded June 16, 1903 after Ford failed with two of his previous companies. Ford Motor Company started with a capital of $28,000 and had many investors including Ford and Malcomson, the Dodge brothers, Malcomson uncle John S. Gray and many more. At the time, only few cars were assembled per day, and groups of two or three workers hand built them from parts that were ordered from other companies. With the help of C. Harold Wills, Ford successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile which got the attention of big time investors for Detroit Automobile Company. After many years of failed attempts at making the “perfect car”, specifically five years after the Ford Motor Company was founded, the first Ford car, the two-cylinder eight-horsepower Model T, was assembled and created October 1, 1908 at a plant on Mack Avenue in Detroit. (Pic 2)
This car finally had all of Ford’s needs as it was cheaper, faster to make, and simple to drive. Although this was not the first car ever build in the world, it was the first make of cheap and
efficient cars available to America. Ford even decided to put the steering wheel and driving seat on the left side of the vehicle, which every motor company after soon copied. The Model T was also known as the “Tin Lizzie” and it was an immediate success. Shortly after its release, Ford had more orders than the company could satisfy. This resulted in the need for larger work areas and more workers. Ford was changing the American Revolution and the Model T lead to some of the first large production plants, standardized interchangeable parts, and the assembly line. Mass production was cut down significantly on the time required to produce an automobile, which later caused costs and prices to stay low. In 1914, Ford also increased the daily wage for an eight-hour day for his workers to $5, setting a first standard for this type of industry. His partners were always eager to put a passenger car on the market for but they often got frustrated with Ford’s constant need to improve. This all paid off after the Model T was brought on the market and America’s fascination grew as more and more Model T cars were available every day. By 1918, half of Americas cars were Model T’s and Ford was just getting started. (Pic 3)
Shortly down the road, in 1919, Henry gained complete ownership and control of the Ford company. Mr. Ford skyrocketed his company to be so successful that a $10,000 investment at the start was transformed into a $25,000,000 return. All of this success allowed Henry to start focusing on other projects as large as building railroads, airplanes, a hospital, and compete in a quality campaign for the United States Senate position. Although he was involved in many incredible things during this time period, competition started to roll in and worry him. Ford’s Model T was no longer the only low-priced quality car on the market. General motors was the maker of the Chevrolet automobile, a more unique looking automobile that did not require full payment at the time of purchase, which was huge. Many people started to purchase the Chevrolet due to reasoning such as the Model T look has not changed, the engine was too loud, and it was not a fast enough car. Henry refused to change or get rid of the Model T. This later put him into a hole he was never able to climb out of, which was being second behind General Motors from 1930 on. Henry dealt with many problems in the future including having to fight using violence against union workers, but managed to retire a wealthy and happy man at age 80, before passing away at age 83. Not only did Henry Ford single handedly evolve this time period, he has heavily impacted our world today. Without his brave actions, we could possibly still be walking or riding bicycles to every event in our life. As a society we were blessed by him with the privilege to drive cars from place to place, and as teenagers or young adults, we were blessed with the excitement of getting the opportunity to receive our driver’s license and get on the road.
All in all, Henry Ford managed to successfully master the art of building one of our country’s most useful inventions up to this point. His work often goes unrecognized and unappreciated by our generation when we have never lived such a difficult lifestyle in which walking was the only option of transportation. Our lifestyles have definitely changed for the better since that time period of only walking, and the numbers prove it. If the automobile did not have such a forceful impact on today’s society, there would not be 1.2 billion cars roaming the streets today. No question about it, the Model T opened up the people and was the main jumpstart to a great period of revolution.
Article by Nico Gambetta and Matt Jenner
Britannica, Inc., 22 June 2017,
History.com Staff. “Model T.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/model-t.
“Henry Ford.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 10 Aug. 2017, www.biography.com/people/henry-ford-9298747.
“Henry Ford.” Entrepreneur, 7 Oct. 2008, Gelderman, Carol W. “Henry Ford.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia
History.com Staff. “Henry Ford.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/henry-ford.