Henry Ford was born in Greenfield, Michigan in 1863 as the son of a farmer. He despised farm work, but was quite handy, and at 15 developed a reputation in his hometown for fixing watches. In 1879 he went to Detroit to apprentice as a machinist, but in 1882 he returned home to help out on the farm. During this period he worked extensively with steam engines, which led to a later job servicing steam engines for Westinghouse Company.
In 1891 Ford’s major career moves began. After rising through the ranks to Chief Engineer at Edison Illuminating Company, he began his work with gasoline engines, and built his first vehicle, the Ford Quadricycle. Upon an influential meeting with Thomas Edison in which Edison encouraged his work, Ford trudged along, making another vehicle, and eventually leaving Edison to create the Detroit Automobile Company. Subsequently, Ford was involved in various automotive endeavors that were either unsuccessful or unsatisfactory to his high standards, before eventually founding The Ford Motor Company in 1903.
Ford’s Model T, introduced in 1908, is the most famous of early American automobiles, and set the standard for the era. Throughout the early 1900s Ford dominated the auto market and grew rapidly with innovative marketing and efficient production strategies. Ford also gained a reputation for paying their workers extremely well, and franchising the business out to local dealers throughout the country, in turn spreading the wealth and bolstering the economy.
In 1918, Henry Ford turned over the Ford presidency to his son, Edsel Ford, though he still retained ultimate control from behind the scenes. Edsel died in 1943, and Henry Ford became president again. His failing health made some within the company unsure of his ability to run the company, but Ford had always been the ultimate boss and he was elected by Ford’s directors to president. Ford’s health problems mounted, and in 1945 he turned over the company to his grandson Henry Ford II. Henry Ford passed away in 1947 of a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving an incredible legacy behind.
Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer