Ford Motor Company entered the business world on June 16, 1903, when Henry Ford and 11 business associates signed the company’s articles of incorporation. With $28,000 in cash, the pioneering industrialists gave birth to what was to become one of the world’s largest corporations. Few companies are as closely identified with the history and development of industry and society throughout the 20th century as Ford Motor Company. As with most great enterprises, Ford Motor Company’s beginnings were modest. The company had anxious moments in its infancy. The earliest record of a shipment is July 20, 1903, approximately one month after incorporation, to a Detroit physician. With the company’s first sale came hope—a young Ford Motor Company had taken its first steps.
The Ford Motor Company (often referred to simply as Ford; sometimes nicknamed Ford’s or FoMoCo, (NYSE: F) is an automobile maker founded by Henry Ford in Detroit, Michigan, and incorporated on June 16, 1903. According to Fortune magazine, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota Motor replaced Ford as the world’s number two and three automobile manufacturers by revenue in 2004. For many years before that Ford was global number two behind General Motors. Ford remains one of the world’s ten largest corporations by revenue. Ford radically reformed the methods for large-scale manufacturing of cars, and large-scale management of an industrial workforce. Ford implemented the ideas of Eli Whitney, who developed the first assembly line using interchangeable parts, which made it possible to put the cars together at a much lower cost and with greater reliability and repeatability. The use of a chain driven track to move the vehicles to the workers was unique in the industry and quickly became the preferred method for volume production. As the individual work tasks became simple and repetitive this allowed the use of unskilled laborers who could be quickly trained for a single task but this also removed most of the satisfaction that a worker performing multiple tasks may enjoy.
Ford was launched from a converted wagon factory, with $28,000 cash from 12 investors. During its early years, the company produced just a few cars a day at the Ford factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit. Groups of two or three men worked on each car from components made to order by other companies. A Ford Taurus, one of Ford’s most recognizable cars. Enlarge A Ford Taurus, one of Ford’s most recognizable cars. A Ford Model T, The first car built using a moving assembly line. Enlarge A Ford Model T, The first car built using a moving assembly line.
In 1908, the Ford company released the Ford Model T. The first Model T’s were built at the Piquette Plant. The company was forced to move production to the much larger Highland Park Plant to keep up with the demand for the Model T, and by 1913 had developed all of the basic techniques of the assembly line and mass production. Ford introduced the world’s first moving assembly line on December 1 that year, which reduced chassis assembly time from 12½ hours in October to 2 hours, 40 minutes. However these innovations were not popular, and in order to stop the staff deserting the monotonous jobs, on January 5, 1914, Ford took the radical step of doubling pay to $5 a day, and cut shifts from nine hours to an eight hour day  – moves that were not popular with rival companies, although seeing the increase in Ford’s productivity, most soon followed suit.
By the end of 1913, Ford was producing 50% of all cars in the United States, and by 1918 half of all cars in the country were Model Ts. Referring to the Model T, Henry Ford is reported to have said that “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” This was because black paint was quickest to dry; earlier models had been available in a variety of colors.
|1||1||World Manufacturer Identifier|
|4||Z||Restraint type or GVWR class|
The model type is specified in positions five through seven of the American Ford VIN. The first position specifies the model line or marque, the next is the series, the last is the vehicle type. The type often indicates the engine size, driven wheels, body style, and similar factors.
|C||Ford E-Series Chassis|
|F||Ford F-Series regular cab|
|M7||Mercury Grand Marquis
|Lincoln Town Car|
|P7||Ford Crown Victoria|
|S||Ford E-Series extended|
|Ford Explorer Mercury Mountaineer Lincoln Aviator|
|W||Ford F-Series crew cab|
|X||Ford F-Series super cab|
1863 — Birth of Henry Ford
1899 — Investors to underwrite Detroit Auto Co., quits Detroit Edison; venture fails
1903 — Ford Motor Co. founded by Malcomson group; Model A produced in rented Mack Ave. plant
1908 — Introduction of legendary Ford Model T
1909 — Offer from Billy Durant to buy out Ford and fold it into nascent General Motors fails when NY bankers won’t provide the cash up front Henry demands
1914 — Announcement of $5 workday at Ford
1921 — 5-millionth Ford built
1947 — Death of Henry Ford
Most people credit Henry Ford with inventing the automobile. The fact is he didn’t. He did, however, introduce standardized interchangeable parts and assembly-line techniques in his plant. Which allowed for mass production of automobiles.
Henry Ford was born on a farm near Dearborn, Michigan, on July 30, 1863, and educated in district schools. He became a machinist’s apprentice in Detroit at the age of 16. From 1888 to 1899 he was a mechanical engineer, and later chief engineer, with the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1893, after experimenting for several years in his leisure hours, he completed the construction of his first automobile, and in 1903 he founded the Ford Motor Company.
In 1913 Ford began using standardized interchangeable parts and assembly-line techniques in his plant. Although Ford neither originated nor was the first to employ such practices, he was chiefly responsible for their general adoption and for the consequent great expansion of American industry and the raising of the American standard of living.
By early 1914 this innovation, although greatly increasing productivity, had resulted in a monthly labor turnover of 40 to 60 percent in his factory, largely because of the unpleasant monotony of assembly-line work and repeated increases in the production quotas assigned to workers. Ford met this difficulty by doubling the daily wage then standard in the industry, raising it from about $2.50 to $5. The net result was increased stability in his labor force and a substantial reduction in operating costs. These factors, coupled with the enormous increase in output made possible by new technological methods, led to an increase in company profits from $30 million in 1914 to $60 million in 1916.
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