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Henry Ford and the Assembly Line

Henry Ford the most influential person in the last century, created a cheap inexpensive traveling carriage. By doing this, people in America and soon people around the world could travel 200 miles in a ten-hour period. Before this invention of the automobile people could only travel 20 miles in one day by horse. Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863. He was the first of six to his parents William and Mary Ford. Henry grew up in a typical 19th century home and attended a one-room schoolhouse. At an early age, he had an interested in mechanical things and a dislike for farm work.

At the age of 16 in 1879, Henry left his home to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit. For three years Henry worked as an apprentice, then returned to his home town. The next couple of year’s Henry worked at home, and occasionally fixed steam engines, and briefly took over his dad’s farm. In 1891, Henry Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. Henry was promoted to Chief Engineer in 1893, which gave him enough money to experiment. In 1896 Henry completed his self-propelled Quadricycle. This Quadricycle had four wire wheels that looked like big bike tires.

To steer this contraption, a tiller like a boat was used: The automobile had two speeds and no reverse. After two unsuccessful attempts to make a manufacturing company to produce automobiles, the “Ford Motor Company” was built in 1903. Fords first assembly line was became the models for future assembly lines. Henry became the Vice-President and Chief Engineer of his own company. The factory built only a few cars a day but still remained in business. Ford soon began working to make a simple, sturdy car that large numbers of people would be able to afford. He achieved one of the first such cars with the Model T, which appeared in 1908.

This was the only car Ford produced. The original price of a Model T was $825. This was too high of a price for many customers. To lower the price, Ford and his coworkers tried new ways to reduce production costs. The company created an assembly line method in which conveyor belts brought automobile parts to workers. Each worker performed a particular task such as adding or tightening a part. This system helped reduce the assembly time of a Ford automobile from about 12 and one half worker-hours in 1912 to about 11 and one half worker-hours in 1914. This greatly influenced the industrial industry forever.

As the company’s production costs fell, Ford passed much of the savings on to his customers. The price of a Model T touring car dropped to $550 in 1913, $440 in 1915, and to $290 in 1924 thus making it possible for the average family to own one. In 1914, Ford raised the minimum wage to $5 a day for his employees who were 22 years of age and over. At this pay more the employees earned more than twice of what most earners received. Ford also reduced the workday from 9 hours to 8 hours a day. Workers flocked to Ford plants seeking jobs, and because of this Ford could choose the hardest-working and smartest applicants.

During the mid-1920’s, Ford continued to produce the Model T even though its popularity had declined. Other companies sold better quality cars for a higher price. Ford continued to offer only a basic transportation at a low cost using the developed assembly line. The Model T changed little from year to year, and from 1914 to 1925 it came in only one color, black. Finally ford introduced a new design called the Model A in 1927 after more than 15 million Model T’s had been sold using the mass manufacturing assembly line.

In 1932, Ford introduced the first low-priced car with a V-8 engine. By that time, however, GM had taken the lead from Ford Motor in U. S. auto sales. In 1945, Henry Ford II, one of Ford’s grandsons, took over the company carrying on the Ford dream. Now with Ford’s new mass production of automobiles people could have a car almost on demand, to get them where they wanted to go when they wanted to go there. Not only did Ford invent a car but also he started the assembly line. These two accomplishments make ford one of the most influential men of the century.

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