Henry Ford

Business Personality / Inventor

Born: 30 July 1863
Died: 7 April 1947
Birthplace: Greenfield Township, Michigan
Best known as: Creator of the Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford created the first inexpensive mass-produced automobile -- the Model T -- and revolutionized American industry by developing and refining assembly line manufacturing. Ford began his working life as a machinist, then became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company. (He and Thomas Edison remained close friends for decades.) In his spare time Ford tinkered with creating a motorized vehicle, and in 1896 introduced the Quadricycle, a four-wheeled cart with a gasoline engine. (Ford has often been credited with inventing the automobile, though historians now agree he was only one of many people who built motorized cars.) In 1903 the Ford Motor Company was founded, and in 1908 Ford introduced the Model T. By 1924 10 million Model T cars had been sold and Detroit had become the auto-making capital of America. Ford remained one of the country's most famous and influential businessmen until his death in 1947.

Extra credit:

The Edsel model car, a famous Ford Motors flop, was named for Ford's only child, who died in 1943... Ford Motors was later run by Edsel's son and Ford's grandson, Henry Ford II... Ford's personal opinions were sometimes controversial, especially his attacks on the Jewish community and pre-war support of Adolf Hitler... After Ford's death much of his fortune was used to create the philanthropic Ford Foundation... Ford is often quoted as saying "History is bunk." The real quote, according to Bartlett's Quotations, is: "History is more or less bunk." Ford made the statement in a 1916 interview with the Chicago Tribune.

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