Henry Ford biography
Henry Ford was born near Dearborn, Michigan, on July 30, 1863. As a child he liked tinkering with machinery and did not care much for the work on the farm. When he was 16, he walked to the nearby Detroit and started working as an apprentice machinist. In 1891 he started working for Thomas Edison as an engineer with Edison Illuminating Company. His experiments with internal combustion engines, led him to built the self-propelled Quadricycle.
After two failed attempts at a motor company, the Ford Motor Company was formed in 1903, with $28000 in capital from eleven investors. In 1908, the company launched the famous Model T. The Model T became a bestseller and really established Ford in the automobile industry. Such was the success of the Model T, that by 1918 half of all cars in America were Model T's.
Ford, however, became a victim of his own success. Despite the declining popularity of the Model T, Ford insisted that they stick to it. Only by 1927 a new model, the Model A, was released, but by then General Motors had caught up to them.
Ford's main contribution to the Industrial Revolution is the assembly line. At the peak of the Model T, a car came of the assembly line every 93 minutes. Ford also instituted $5 minimum wages. Though criticized by some at the time, Ford did this so that his employees could also afford his cars. (It was a boon that it also helped with productivity.)
Ford was an autocrat and he determined company policy by himself. This often led to conflict and some of the better employees left to take up positions with competitors.
Henry Ford died in 1947 at age 83 and his grandson Henry Ford II took over as chairman of the company. As Lee Iacocca (who worked for Ford and later became Chairman of Chrysler) said of his legacy: "...if it hadn't been for Henry Ford's drive to create a mass market for cars, America wouldn't have a middle class today."