People usually associate Henry Ford’s name with one of the most popular car companies in the world—Ford Motor Company, and the development of the assembly line. One of his goals was to make cars affordable to ordinary people. The Ford Model T was his invention, but there are many little-known Henry Ford facts. Here are just a few of them.
- Henry Ford began life on a farm in Greenfield Township, Michigan. His father insisted he’d take over the farm after his mother’s passing. Having no interest in farm life, Ford pursued engineering, leaving home at 16 and heading to Detroit to work as an apprentice machinist.
- Henry Ford was promoted by the Edison Illuminating Company to Chief Engineer in 1893. He was on-call 24 hours a day. At the encouragement of Thomas Edison, he left 6 years later to work on his gasoline automobile. His first efforts to establish an automobile company were in collaboration with Edison; they formed the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899.
- He saved Edison’s last breath inside a test tube, while the inventor was on his death bed. The test tube is still on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
- Ford was almost a politician. President Woodrow Wilson convinced him to run for the Senate as a Democrat, in 1918. Despite not investing a cent in his campaign, Ford lost by only 4,500 votes.
- The Ford Airplane Company was started during World War I. Ford was recognized as a pioneer in aviation in 2002 by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Due to poor sales, the company shut down in 1933.
- His passion for airplanes ran beyond production. Ford set out to build a flying car and manufactured a prototype. A test drive resulted in the death of the driver and the project was soon abandoned.
- Ford loved driving cars as much as making them. As a young adult, he was a racecar driver and spent time working on engines; later in life, he hated car racing, but was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996. His passion for engines can be seen even earlier; Ford built his first steam engine in 1878, at 15 years old.
- Ford is sometimes credited for the 40-hour workweek and inventing the weekend. He believed in the importance of rest for his employees, and that time off allowed people to spend money, which improves the economy.
- In order to obtain a steady supply of rubber, Ford tried to build a city within the Amazon. Although the land purchased was the size of Connecticut, Fordlandia didn’t live up to its concept. The locals didn’t take to working on assembly lines in a factory. Today, the area remains abandoned.
- Ford built the first moving assembly line in 1913. Ransom E. Olds, inventor of the Oldsmobile, used stationary assembly lines first. Fords concept reduced the time to build a chassis from 728 minutes down to 93 minutes. The moving system included feeder lines to supply parts when and where they were needed.
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