3 Henry Ford (Founder Ford Motor Company)

Henry Ford was an inventor, philanthropist and successful American businessman. Ford was the founder of the still popular Ford Motor Company which had its first success with the Model T Ford car that was released in 1908. Henry Ford revolutionized the way cars were designed and built, introducing assembly line factories for producing mass amounts of vehicles that led to lower prices for consumers and an explosion in car ownership throughout the United States.

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan, United States, in what was then known as Springwells Township. Ford's parents were Irish immigrants and the family lived on a farm, with Henry Ford being the eldest of six children. The family had a comfortable upbringing on the farm with a decent income, but even as a young person, Ford believed there was too much work and not enough income living from the land.

"It was life on the farm that drove me into devising ways and means to better transportation. I was born on July 30, 1863, on a farm at Dearborn, Michigan, and my earliest recollection is that, considering the results, there was too much work on the place." Henry Ford Quote

Ford began his career as an apprentice machinist in 1879, then returned to his family farm in 1882 before starting work with the Westinghouse company to service their steam engines. Ford then went to work at the Edison Illuminating Company where he became chief engineer in 1893.

Henry Ford had always enjoyed mechanical things and was always trying to improve or create more useful machinery. In 1893 he created his first gasoline driven buggy or Quadricycle that was completely self propelled. He then started the Detroit Automobile Company with several other investors to improve on his design, but the company went bankrupt soon after. Ford then started the Henry Ford Company, which he also left, before eventually starting the Ford Motor Company in 1903.

The Ford Motor Company released the successful Model T car in 1908. Generally cars were built one at a time and were only accessible to the very wealthy, but Ford continued to improve the way the cars were manufactured. In 1913 the cars were being mass produced by one of the first moving assembly lines. In 1918, half of the total amount of cars in the United States were Model T's, 15 million cars were sold, and production of the Model T was finally stopped in 1927.

By 1926, flagging sales of the Model T finally convinced Henry to make a new model. Henry pursued the project with a great deal of technical expertise in design of the engine, chassis, and other mechanical necessities, while leaving the body design to his son. Edsel also managed to prevail over his father's initial objections in the inclusion of a sliding-shift transmission.
The result was the successful Ford Model A, introduced in December 1927 and produced through 1931, with a total output of more than 4 million. Subsequently, the Ford company adopted an annual model change system similar to that recently pioneered by its competitor General Motors (and still in use by automakers today). Not until the 1930s did Ford overcome his objection to finance companies, and the Ford-owned Universal Credit Corporation became a major car-financing operation.

Ford also had interests in politics but was never successful as a politician, and unsuccessfully ran for Senate as a Democrat. He also had strong views on labor and how the workforce should be treated. He paid his workers more money for less working days and made the 5 day 40 hour working week a normal part of working life.

Henry Ford created the Ford Foundation in 1936 to promote human welfare through research grants, educational grants and development.

In 1947, at the age 83 Henry Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.

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