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 industry.
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 engineer.
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 engineer.
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 meet demand.
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 pay.
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 Day.
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 Rouge Complex.
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 Goose."
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 Motor Company.
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 Museum.
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 Ford's workers.
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 with Willys-Overland.
1943: Stomach cancer claims the life of Ford's son.
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 estate.