Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.
Henry Ford (1863-1947), American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company. Many people mistakenly believe that Ford invented the automobile or that he invented the assembly line. Who invented the automobile does not have an easy answer — there were several inventors who made important contributions: Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot developed the first steam engine (1769) and Robert Anderson developed the first electric carriage (1832). But it was Karl Benz who developed the first gasoline automobile powered by an internal combustion engine in 1885. Ford is credited as “inventor” of the car simply because the Ford Model T revolutionized transportation in America in the early 1900s. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model Ts. They were cheap — $360 to $825 — and easy to drive.
The assembly line, on the other hand, was invented by Ransom Olds who founded the Olds Gasoline Engine Works in 1895. In order to build the Curved Dash Oldsmobile car quickly and inexpensively, Olds had workers assigned to fixed workstations, using interchangeable parts in repetitive operations, and vendors were set up to deliver the parts to each station. The reason that Ford is given credited for the assembly line, is that he added one important element: a conveyor: by playing the cars on a conveyor, moving from station to station, Ford created the first moving assembly line.
Ironically, when you think of assembly lines, you think of mass production and cheap labor. But, Ford had it the other way around. He introduced the concept of Fordism: mass production of inexpensive goods by workers who were paid high wages. Talk about anachronisms…
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For further reading: The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century by Steven Watts
They Made America by Harold Evans