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The Henry Ford story
Henry Ford has changed the way of life for many people with his vision to make owning a car both practical and affordable. The moving assembly line and mass production techniques that he developed, set the standard for worldwide industrial practice in the first half of the 20th Century.
 
The story begins in Springwells Township, Wayne County, Michigan, on 30 July 1863, when Henry was the first-born of William and Mary Ford’s six children. Growing up on a prosperous family farm, he was educated in a one-room school, where he showed an early interest in all things mechanical. This interest would develop into true genius and earn him the accolade of ‘one of the greatest industrialists in the world.’
Henry Ford started young. By the age of 12, he was spending most of his spare time in a small machine shop, which he had equipped himself. It was here that he constructed his first steam engine, in 1878, aged just 15. The next year, Henry left home, bound for the nearby city of Detroit, to work as an apprentice machinist.

His apprenticeship lasted three years, after which he returned home to Dearborn. During the next few years, Henry divided his time between operating and repairing steam engines, finding occasional work in a Detroit factory and overhauling his father's farm implements. The year 1888, saw a major change in his life, when he married Clara Bryant and began supporting his new family by running a sawmill.

It wasn’t long before Henry made another change and by 1891, he had become an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. A promotion to Chief Engineer two years later, gave him enough time and money to devote more attention to his personal experiments on internal combustion engines.
The culmination of his experiments was the building of a self-propelled vehicle – the Quadricycle – in 1896. The first Ford engine spluttered its way into history, on his wooden kitchen table at 58 Bagley Avenue and this was quickly followed by his next design, an engine mounted on a frame, fitted with four bicycle wheels – the first Ford car.
After resigning from Edison in 1898, Henry formed the Detroit Automobile Company. Unfortunately, the company was forced into bankruptcy. But never one to be stopped by a setback, he designed and built several racing cars and drove the infamous ‘Sweepstakes’ to victory beating American Champion, Alexander Winton, on 10 October 1901.
 
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Photos & Media

 icon 1907 - Henry Ford on experimental tractor icon 1914 - Henry Ford on a Quadricycle icon 1932 - Henry Ford stamping number on vehicle icon Undated - Henry Ford in his 999 race car icon