Henry Ford

Inducted 1967

Created the rugged, affordable Model T, selling more than 15 million units between 1908 and 1927

Revolutionized his company and world industry in 1914 with the moving assembly line

Changed labor dynamics in 1914 by doubling pay for production workers

Henry Ford is credited with putting the world on wheels. Born on a farm, but hating the drudgery of farm work, Ford’s life changed one day on the road between Detroit and Dearborn: he saw a steam engine moving under its own power. Nearly 20 years later, he built a self-propelled vehicle of his own. As just one of many talented mechanics who tinkered with the horseless carriage, Ford might have been forgotten. But his dream of building a car for the common man set Ford apart from other automotive pioneers. After two automotive business ventures failed, Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 with a handful of talented and dedicated people. In 1908, the first of some 15 million Model T Ford vehicles took to the road. The Model T met the public’s needs perfectly: inexpensive, reliable, easy to repair, and maneuverable on rough and muddy roads. Ford made the cars inexpensively and efficiently using an automated, moving assembly line. The hard, repetitive work of the assembly line resulted in high employee turnover that reduced productivity. Ford responded to that situation in 1914 when he announced that he would pay his workers $5 per day for just eight hours — about twice the going rate. Job seekers applied by the thousands and Ford became a hero to workers who now could afford to buy their own car. In 1923, over half of America’s cars were Model Ts.

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