Henry Ford was one of the greatest pioneers of American History. He created the Model-T automobile and invented the fast paced assembly line. Henry was born on July 30, 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan in the upstairs bedroom of a farmhouse where he lived. He was the first of six children. He lived with his mother, Mary Litogot Ford, and his father, William Ford, who emigrated from Ireland in 1847.
He had a typical childhood, with many chores to do on the farm such as: tending animals, orchards, vegetable gardens, and sowing and reaping the crops. Henry never liked to do that kind of work, because it was boring to him. The only type of farm work he was interested in was work with The McCormick Mechanical Reaper. This machine could do the work of ten men all at one time. Ford was the kind of boy who would like to take things apart and put them all back together again. Machines and tools were toys to him while other boys were interested in sports. He knew what he wasted to do with his life right away, and that was to be a mechanic. Ford spent his spare time reading all about gas engines. Henry started out by taking watches apart and putting them back together again. Many people started bringing their broken watches and clocks to him to fix.
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When Henry was thirteen, he had lost his mother Mary. She was very weak and gave birth to her eighth child. The child ended up dying and put his mother in a worse situation with her strength. Mary couldn’t regain her strength and died twelve days after giving the birth. Henry was very down and depressed and he felt like he did something wrong. He took the blame upon him for a while and stayed to himself for man months.
At the age of fifteen, Henry was determined to make something that ran on wheels, and didn’t require much hard work. He was uneducated because he didn’t like school, and never passed eighth grade. He ended up working various jobs where there was machinery. Ford built a machine shop, called the Edison Illuminating Company and repaired steam engines for hard working farmers.
One of Henry’s creations was that he named the Quadra Cycle. The Quadra Cycle consisted of a box shape body on four bicycle wheels. It had no brakes, but still got people from point A to point B. On a rainy, Thursday night, June 4, 1896, he started it up and drove his first horseless carriage. It was the sixth American built, gas-powered car. The importance of the Quadra Cycle was that it got people from place to place a lot faster that walking. People had to travel long ways to get places like the doctor, grocery store to get food they needed and much more. With this invention, families received their needs a lot quicker, and life was moving much faster. The Quadra Cycle may have been a great invention, but Henry wanted to make people’s lives even easier. He wanted to design a car that was dependable, easy to repair, that would last a long time, and inexpensive for people to buy.
During the year of 1903, Ford launched the Ford Motor Company with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars, which twenty-eight thousand dollars was given in cash. Ford was determined enough to introduce the Model-T, which was nicknamed the Tin Lizzie, in 1908. He had made some racing cars earlier, but not to sell. The Model-T ran on a four cylinder, twenty horsepower engine. This was considered a fast car back then compared to walking or peddling on a bicycle. The Model-T came with three colors: red for the body, and gray and green for the remaining parts. Henry sold approximately about six hundred and fifty of them in 1903. In 1914, the car was only available in the color black but then returned to color in 1926. At this time, the Model-T made him the most successful businessman. The Model-T was considered the Everyman’s car, because everyone was interested in buying one.
In 1908, automobiles were considered only for the wealthy. Ford built the largest automobile plant in the world, and invented the assembly line in 1913. The assembly line was a system of manufacturing in which each worker performs a specialized operation and his or her own station. The product is them moved to the person at the next station on a conveyer belt. This was one of the ways mass production came about, and it made the cars much cheaper to produce. The Model-T was eventually produced on the assembly line in 1913. It only took ninety minutes to put the body together the body in 1913. The Ford Motor Company produced about eight thousand cars a day.
Prices of the Model-T dropped dramatically once the assembly line was introduced. It went from nine hundred and fifty dollars, in 1909, to only four hundred and ninety dollars in 1913. Today, four hundred and ninety dollars is equal to the amount of eight thousand five hundred dollars to purchase an automobile. Ford paid his workers five dollars or more per day for working eight hours, which was double the amount, paid to an average worker anywhere. Most laborers earned two dollars and fifty cents for twelve hours of work. There was one problem with the amount of earnings the employees made when working in the factory. Many people stood outside the factory begging to get a job there because they paid so well. Henry had hired more than six thousand people, paying them the same amount of money. Since not everyone could get employed there, civilians started to rebel because of the jealousy, and fights broke out in the streets outside. By 1940, Henry Ford had made over one billion dollars in the business, and became one of the richest men in the world.
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