Henry Ford

Henry Ford with his Model T. Getty Images

Who Was Henry Ford?


July 30, 1863 -- April 7, 1947

Henry Ford's Childhood

Ford, the Tinkerer

Steam Engines

It was during this time that Henry met Clara Bryant. When they married in 1888, Henry's father gave him a large piece of land on which Henry built a small house, a sawmill, and a shop to tinker in.

Ford's Quadricycle

Founding the Ford Motor Company

Believing that publicity would encourage people to by cars, Henry started building and driving his own racecars. It was at racetracks that Henry Ford's name first became well known.

However, the average person didn't need a racecar, they wanted something reliable. While Ford worked on designing a reliable car, investors organized a factory. It was this third attempt at a company to make automobiles, the Ford Motor Company, that succeeded. On July 15, 1903, the Ford Motor Company sold its first car, a Model A, to Dr. E. Pfennig, a dentist, for $850. Ford continually worked to improve the cars' design and soon created Models B, C, and F.

The Model T

Since the Model T quickly became so popular that it was selling faster than Ford could manufacture them, Ford began looking for ways to speed up the manufacturing.

In 1913, Ford added a motorized assembly line in the plant. The motorized conveyor belts moved the car to the workers, who would now each add one part to the car as the car passed them.

The motorized assembly line significantly cut the time, and thus cost, of manufacturing each car. Ford passed on this savings to the customer. Although the first Model T was sold for $850, the price eventually dropped to under $300. Ford produced the Model T from 1908 until 1927, building 15 million cars.

Ford Advocates for His Workers

Ford also created a sociological department in the factory that would examine workers' lives and try to make it better. Since he believed he knew what was best for his workers, Henry was very much against unions.


Dearborn Independent

The Death of Henry Ford

For decades, Henry Ford and his only child, Edsel, worked together at the Ford Motor Company. However, friction between them steadily grew, based nearly entirely on differences of opinion over how the Ford Motor Company should be run. In the end, Edsel died from stomach cancer in 1943, at age 49. In 1938 and again in 1941, Henry Ford suffered strokes. On April 7, 1947, four years after Edsel's death, Henry Ford passed away at age 83.