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Why is Henry Ford is one of the most
important Americans of the 20th century?
He did not . . .

Invent the ³horseless carriage´ or

automobile (Nicolas-
(Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
did in 1769)
Invent the internal combustion engine
(Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoire
patented it in 1860)
Invent the mass production of
commodities through specialization
and division of labor (see Adam
Smith¶s Wealth of Nations in 1776)
Invent the automobile industry
(Daimler and Benz did in 1885)
Invent the mass production of cars
(Oldsmobile did in 1901)
Invent the use of interchangeable
parts in the car assembly process
(Cadillac did in 1904)
Henry Ford was an inventor . . .
Was inducted into the
National Inventors
Hall of Fame in 1982
for his invention of the
Google Patent Search
finds 50 patents
under his name
. . . but he is not best known for any
particular invention.
Why Henry Ford Is Important
He revolutionized
production by
implementing the
moving assembly
In doing so he
made a car for
the masses: the
Model T
R will build a motor car
for the great
multitude. t will be so
low in price that no man
making a good salary
will be unable to own
one ± and enjoy with his
family the blessings of
hours of pleasure in
God¶s greatest open

--Henry Ford upon
founding Ford Motor
Company c. 1903
Born July 30, 1863
Loved tinkering with
things as a kid
Idol was Thomas
Did not go to college
Married Clara Bryant
in 1888
Died April 7, 1947
Ford Motor Company
Founded June 17, 1903
Founded in Dearborn,
Was Henry Ford¶s third
Current President/CEO is Alan
Current Chairman is William
Clay Ford, Jr., Henry Ford¶s
In 2007, sold 2.4 million cars
Started making the Model T in
First moving assembly line
was at Highland Park
Assembly Plant (1913)
Assembly Line Basics
Basic principle: the work moves
and the workers stay put
It is based on a division of labor
and specialization: many people
work on a product and each
person does a small task at a
Parts must be standardized
When a product reaches the end
of the line it has gone through
every station and is now a finished
This is an old idea: perhaps used
by Egyptians building pyramids,
famous example of ³pin factory´ in
Adam Smith¶s he Wealth of
Nations (published 1776)
Moving Assembly Line (Idea)
Ford¶s innovation was not the
assembly line, but the
MOVING assembly line
Idea of the moving assembly
line is typically credited to a
trip Ford employees made to
the Swift meatpacking plant in
Chicago, where they saw pigs
being conveyed through a
³disassembly´ line of stations

RWhy don¶t we assemble motors

like they kill hogs in Chicago?´

-- C. Harold Wills, Chief

Engineering Assistant, Ford
Motor Company, 1912
Moving Assembly Line
First moving assembly
line at Ford Motor Co.
produced magneto coils
Later, entire vehicles
were assembled at
Highland Park plant,
beginning in 1913
Moving assembly line
was so efficient that
Ford could only use
type of paint (one that
would dry fast enough),
which only came in
Assembly Line Efficiency
One man hour with
moving assembly line
equaled four man hours
without moving
assembly line
Though it had 1,500
parts, one Model T
could be assembled
every three minutes
Made it possible for
Ford to make lots of
cars much more
Model T Facts
Predated the moving
assembly line at Ford
First introduced
September 27, 1908
Was $850 when
Was produced until 1927
Was the bestselling car
for 20 years
Nicknamed the ³Tin Lizzie´
Model T Cost: Pre-
Pre- and Post
Moving Assembly Line
1913--$850 (pre
1913 (pre--)
1915--$440 (post
1915 (post--)
A Ford worker could
buy a Model T with
four months of wage
Model T Innovations
Had the steering
wheel on the left
Engine and
transmission were
entirely enclosed
Cylinders were in a
Suspension use two
semi--elliptic springs
Model T Features
Had a top
Had a windshield
Had a speedometer
Had headlamps
Had a generator for
the headlamps
Engine was front
Model T Features (cont.)
Had a 2.9L engine
Engine had 4
Had 20 horsepower
Tank held 10 gallons
Had rear wheel drive
Top speed was 40-
Got 13-
Ran on gas or ethanol
Henry Ford¶s success
implementing the moving
assembly line at Ford
Motor Co. became a
model for production
This style of production
became known as
³Fordism´ and spread
throughout different
industries and the world.
Significance of the Automobile
By making the ³horseless carriage´
available to the average person, Henry
Ford transformed American society
(arguably) more than any other person
in the 20th century

80% of all U.S. households own at

least one car and 30% own at least 2
80% of all U.S. vacations are by car
Americans drive 2.66 trillion miles per

Also, makes suburbanization, fast food,

and strip shopping malls possible
Represents freedom and individuality ±
core American values
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