Life without cars in nearly every driveway may
seem unimaginable for most Americans today, as
cars have become crucial to everyday life. This
fact that cars have become such a common and
expected presence in the U.S. and in countries
around the world can be traced back to automaker
and innovator Henry Ford. His efforts and
forward-thinking creations made automobiles
accessible to not only the wealthy but to the
less affluent as well. Additionally, he also
changed how cars, and ultimately other goods,
are manufactured. From humble beginnings, the
life of Henry Ford was marked by successes that
changed the world of transportation and
1863: Henry Ford is born on a farm not far from
Detroit in what is currently Dearborn, Michigan.
His parents are Mary and William Ford.
1879: At the age of 16, Henry leaves home for
Detroit and a machinist apprenticeship.
1888: Henry marries Clara Bryant.
1891: The Edison Illuminating Company hires Ford
as an engineer.
1893: Edsel Ford is born to Clara and Henry.
Also during this year, the Edison Illuminating
Company promotes Ford to the position of chief
1896: Ford finishes his first vehicle, which
took him two years to complete. It is called the
Quadricycle. The two-cylinder automobile weighed
approximately 500 pounds and had two speeds and
a four-cycle gasoline engine.
1899: With the help of investors such as William
C. Maybury, who was the mayor of Detroit at the
time, Ford opens the Detroit Automobile Company.
As a result, he leaves his position at the
Edison Illuminating Company.
1900: The Detroit Automobile Company closes.
1901: Ford designs a car that wins a 10-mile
race against Alexander Winton, a top race-car
driver at the time. The attention that comes
from this race leads to the founding of the
Henry Ford Company, where he serves as the chief
1902: Ford leaves the Henry Ford Company and
builds the Ford 999 race car.
1903: The Ford Motor Company is incorporated in
June of this year and successfully produces the
Model A. By July, the first Model A is sold to a
dentist in Chicago.
1908: The Model T is released. Known as the "Tin
Lizzie," the Model T was made to be affordable
for everyone and easy to maintain. The vehicle
sold so well the company had difficulty
producing enough to meet the high demand. It
would ultimately become one of the best-selling
cars of all time.
1913: Ford becomes the first company to use an
assembly line for automotive production. This
revolutionary process allowed the manufacturer
to produce the Model T significantly faster to
1914: To reduce staff turnover, Ford cuts the
9-hour work day to 8 hours and begins to pay
workers $5 daily, more than double the normal
1914: The first full-service industrial motion
picture firm, the Photographic Department, is
formed by Ford Motor Company to create motion
pictures and still photographs. It releases its
first film during the summer of the same year,
called How Henry Ford Makes One Thousand Cars a
1917: The Ford Model TT is produced. It is the
manufacturer's first pickup truck.
1918: The manufacturing of Eagle-class
antisubmarine patrol boats begins at the River
1925: Ford builds the first of his multi-engine,
all-metal Tri-Motor airplanes, which would
become the first airplanes used by commercial
airlines. The planes are given the nickname "Tin
1927: In efforts to open rubber plantations as a
source of rubber for the Ford Motor Company,
Ford buys land in Brazil. This would later
become the industrial town known as Fordlandia.
1927: Ford's River Rouge Complex begins
producing entirely finished cars. The vehicles
produced at this factory were built from the
ground up using raw materials owned by the Ford
December 1927: The new Ford Model A is released
to the public.
1928: The Ford Model T is discontinued after
having sold more than 15 million vehicles.
1933: Ford opens the Edison Institute, which
would later become known as the Henry Ford
1937: The Battle of the Overpass occurs at the
River Rouge Complex. The incident occurs when
Ford security attacks United Auto Workers
members who, with city permit in hand, are
passing out leaflets in an effort to unionize
1941: After declaring in April that he would
rather close factories than answer union demands
for higher pay, Ford agrees in July to give
workers some of the highest wages in the
industry, plus a union shop. Also this year,
Ford begins making jeeps for the military along
1943: Stomach cancer claims the life of Ford's
1945: During a trip to Richmond early in the
year, Ford has a stroke, which affects him both
mentally and physically. Later that year, his
grandson, Henry Ford II, sells Fordlandia.
1947: At the age of 83, Henry Ford dies at his