At the turn of the century, a number of American inventors and their inventions significantly changed the world. Thomas Edison gave us electricity, the Wright brothers gave us airplanes, and Alexander Graham Bell gave us the telephone. Then there was Henry Ford and his Model-T car, which radically changed American life.
Born in 1863 to Irish immigrants, Ford became one of the richest and most powerful men in America. While others had already built automobiles, Ford made a car with a simple engine that people could afford. Making his first Model-T in 1909, he sold about 11,000 of them in one year.
Wanting everyone to have a car, Ford and his engineers developed the moving assembly line in order to mass-produce Model-T cars. This procedure allowed Ford to cut the price of Model T cars to an affordable $300. Ford Motors made 248,000 Model T’s in 1914. Ford paid his workers five dollars a day, good wages at that time. Ford realized he had to pay good wages to keep workers contented at the boring assembly line and to allow them to buy the cars themselves.
Americans fell in love with cars and Congress provided funds to build highways. Roads were built throughout America and roadside services like restaurants, gas stations, and motels sprang up.
Detroit came to be called Motor City because of all the cars built there: Chrysler, Ford, Chevrolet, Packard, and Studebaker. Ford himself wouldn’t let his workers drive the cars of his competitors, and he fired anyone who did. He also managed to keep unions out of his plants until 1941.
Very conservative in politics, Ford was also known for his anti-Semitic views that he published in a newspaper. Ironically, Ford had a rabbi as a friend to whom he gave a new Model-T each year as a present. The rabbi, however, refused to accept the car once Ford started publishing his anti-Semitic paper. Later, Ford apologized for the things he said in his paper. Ford also thought most of his workers were lazy and unreliable and, as he got older, started a secret police at his factory. He died in 1947.
Henry ford – interesting facts