Henry Ford

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Henry Ford is a man who literally transformed the world. The car he built and the changes he made on the techniques of industrial production revolutionized the lives of people everywhere. At the height of his fame, in the 1920s, Ford was a name known universally. "Fordismus" entered the European vocabulary as a word for mass production; and a correspondent in the Soviet Union in 1927 commented that Ford's name was as well known as Lenin's or Trotsky's. He was regarded as a symbol of industrial technology. Ford himself came from a humble farming background. Born July 30, 1363, in Dearborne, Michigan, near Detroit, young Henry hated almost everything about farming except the machinery. When he was 16, he went to Detroit to serve as an apprentice in a machine shop. He

held a series of jobs and became completely knowledgeable of the way different types of machines operated. He began to experiment with internal combustion machines in his home workshop in 1891. He was one of many would-be-inventors working on plans for the automobile; and he discussed his project with other mechanics and businessmen working in Detroit. In 1896 Ford succeeded in building an automobile powered by a gasoline engine which he had built in his kitchen sink. Running on four horsepower, the car could reach a speed of 25 miles per hour. Ford organized the Detroit Automobile -1- Company in 1899 and produced a small number of cars before the company collapsed two years later. He designed and manufactured racing cars, and in 1900, raced one model at 70 miles per hour. In

1903, at the age of 40, and with an investment of $28,000, Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company. The automobile was still considered a toy of the rich, and Ford set about to change this situation. Ford's philosophy of manufacturing and business is set forth in his autobiography: "Ask a hundred people how they want a particular article made. About eighty will not know; they will leave it to you. Fifteen will think that they must say something, while five will really have preferences and reasons. The ninety-five, made up of those who do not know and admit it and the fifteen who do not know but do not admit it, constitute the real market for any product. The majority will consider quality and buy the biggest dollar's worth of quality. If therefore you discover what

will give this 95 percent of the people the best all-round service and then arrange to manufacture at the very highest quality and sell at the very lowest price, you will be meeting a demand which is so large that it may be called universal....The only further step required is to throw overboard the idea of pricing on what the traffic will bear and instead go to the common-sense basis of pricing on what it costs to manufacture and then -2- reducing the cost of manufacture..." In the early years of the company's existence, Ford was involved in legal battles challenging patents which restricted his freedom to alter the internal combustion engine to better suit the car he wished to build. Winning a clear victory in the courts, Henry Ford established an early reputation as a foe

of monopolies and the champion of the common man. The Model T Ford was introduced in 1908. It was boxy and tinny-looking, as its nickname, the "Tin Lizzie," implied; but it was within the purchasing power of people who were not rich. It fulfilled the goal which Ford had set for himself: "I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials by the best men to be hired, after the simpliest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it 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 blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces." Ford was able to