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Henry Ford Biography

Inventor of Mass Production, Ford Motor Car

Posted on January 12, 2011 by , with 32767 views

Henry Ford

Born in Greenfield, Michigan on the 30th July, 1863, Henry Ford began his historic life journey. Leaving school at 15, he worked on his father's farm, before moving to Detroit in 1879 becoming an apprentice in a machinery shop. Despite a poor salary, he managed to compensate by fixing clocks and watches in his spare time during most evenings.

His father offered him 40 acres of land back in Greenfield, which enticed Ford back to the farming world. Never keen on farming, he spent the majority of his time on the farm attempting to develop a steam road carriage and a locomotive for the farm. His lack of desire to follow in his father's farming footsteps led him back to Detroit, where he worked as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company.

It was during this time that Ford happened upon an article in the World of Science detailing how German engineer, Nicholas Otto, had developed an internal combustion engine. This article inspired Ford, and he spent most of his own time trying to develop a petrol-driven car. His efforts were rewarded in 1896, when his first car was successfully built, all from the confines of a little shed erected in his garden. The car, powered by a four-cycle, two cylinder motor, used bicycle wheels and had no reverse gear or brakes.

In 1899 Ford's vision was becoming more of a reality, as he was able to raise enough capital to begin his own company. The first set of investors withdrew from the endeavour; following an $86,000 expenditure resulting in no car being developed that was commercially viable. Further down the line Ford did develop a car that could be sold, prompting 6,000 $10 shares to be snapped up through his company.

Despite the improvements, this also failed and in June, 1903, he identified twelve more willing investors, raising a combined $28,000, to start yet another new motor company. Ford began his production of the Model A car which sold well and caused his company to expand and become very successful, bringing in profits of $1,100,000 by 1907. In 1909, Ford decided to manufacture only one type of car, that car being the Model T.

The Model T car took approximately 14 hours to assemble, which Ford managed to reduce to 1 hour 33 minutes by altering the production techniques. Subsequently this brought down the cost of each individual car allowing Ford to sell at aggressive figures to knock the competition out of the water. For the following 8 years the price dropped to $360 from the initial $1,000 price.

With the First World War beginning Ford made his anti-war beliefs clear. Ford was soon introduced to a conference, where members would discuss ways in which they could end the war. Ford's idea was to send out a boat of pacifists to Europe in order for a settlement to be arrived at. The Ford Peace Ship arrived in Stockholm in January, 1916, but the lack of the leading nation's willingness to participate proved to be its own downfall.

Ford continued his interest in politics throughout and after the war and joined the Democratic Party which was closely defeated in 1918, failing to win a single seat.

The Ford Motor Company however continued to expand and in 1925 Ford was producing a staggering 10,000 cars daily - 60% of America's combined car output. Ford's lack of diversifying, by developing variation models and alternatives caused the company to slowly start losing ground on the competition, despite selling over 15,000,000 Model T cars.

Ford's son, Edsel Ford, died in 1943, prompting Ford to return to the reigns of the company. Despite his anti-war messages and actions, Ford allowed his country access to his production resources, one plant producing over 8,000 Liberator bombers during the Second World War.

Inventor Henry Ford died on the 7th April, 1947.

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