Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Man Who Built America

Much to contrary belief Henry Ford did not invent the first car, nor the first assembly line.  What he did do was create a car that everyone could afford- the Model T.  He was the creative force behind the industry that changed the United States economy on a global scale.  Without his ingenuity, the automobile would have been left as an item only for the extremely wealthy.

Born on July 30, 1863, Ford lived on a small Farm with 7 siblings.  As a child Henry found himself working in Detroit for machine shops, where he first came into contact with machines, immediately realizing the potential that they had.  After returning home Henry kept tinkering with machines and built a tractor using steam engine for power.  It was then that he decided his goal would be to build a gas-powered engine and returned to the city to achieve this dream.  

During the 1990’s Henry founded his own company, with many investors.  Building a passenger car, his backers wanted Henry to send it to the market; however, Henry refused believing it to be too high of a price and a low quality car.  In response, Ford and his partner Alexander Malcomson, brought in another group of investors (including the Dodge Brothers) and founded the Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903. 

It was then that Ford demonstrated his newly designed car the Ford model "999" by setting a new land speed at 91.3 mph at Lake St. Clair.  It took another 5 years before Henry Ford built his Model T and sent it to the market at a mere $825.  

The secret behind his success was the assembly line.  Henry Ford took the idea of the assembly line and perfected it.  He placed in conveyor belts creating the first moving line, getting the idea came from a meat packing company in Chicago.  With his amazing ingenuity Ford switched it around creating an assembly line much like we see today.  Having each person do a specific task allowed the workers to specialize in what they were doing causing each Model T to be built in 1.5 man-hours (before a car required 12.5 man-hours to finish). 

The assembly line greatly impacted America’s economy sending it through a second wave of the industrial revolution.  Because of Ford by the 1930’s over 50% of American families owned a car which allowed for easier transportation and kick started many other inventions and industries such as the airplane.  Kaufman and Beghetto would describe Henry Ford as a Big-C creativity thinker. 

 Kaufman and Beghetto describe Big-C thinkers as ones whose works would last centuries and Ford definitely fits the bill.  Not only will he be remembered for perfecting the assembly line and for creating the first affordable car, Henry Ford brought a lot of other great ideas to the American workplace including the 5-dollar work day and the 5-day work week.  Ford will always be remembered for being a great innovator.  Like many other creative people before him, Henry Ford took a good idea and made it better.  For him, it didn't happen over night, but Ford showed that through hard work and determination you can achieve greatness.


  1. It is unbelievable how iconic the shape and style of the model t has become even in modern day. When people think of that era of cars almost everyone's first thought is the model t. And I do not think enough people give Ford credit for how much creativity it must have taken to revolutionize the car industry back when cars where no where near as prominent as they are now.

  2. Cool blog. It's awesome how people like Ford with a humble background innovate for the good of people of their demographic. It's also impressive that Ford was an engineer and a smart businessman. Fun fact: the assembly line was a spin-off of the Chicago meatpacking industry's dis-assembly line.

  3. Wow, it's incredible to think that Ford was able to literally redefine the whole manufacturing industry and gave way to what it is today. Demetri, this was an amazing post, and had some very insightful realizations. It is particularly interesting how the ever moving assembly line, with the new improvement of the conveyor belt, lead to such an efficient production time


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