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Ford Motor Company started the last century with a single man envisioning products that would meet the needs of people in a world on the verge of high-gear industrialization.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.


Perhaps Ford Motor Company's single greatest contribution to automotive manufacturing was the moving assembly line. First implemented at the Highland Park plant (in Michigan, US) in 1913, the new technique allowed individual workers to stay in one place and perform the same task repeatedly on multiple vehicles that passed by them. The line proved tremendously efficient, helping the company far surpass the production levels of their competitors—and making the vehicles more affordable.

Henry Ford insisted that the company's future lay in the production of affordable cars for a mass market. Beginning in 1903, the company began using the first 19 letters of the alphabet to name new cars. In 1908, the Model T was born. 19 years and 15 million Model T's later, Ford Motor Company was a giant industrial complex that spanned the globe. In 1925, Ford Motor Company acquired the Lincoln Motor Company, thus branching out into luxury cars, and in the 1930's, the Mercury division was created to establish a division centered on mid-priced cars. Ford Motor Company was growing.

In the 50's came the Thunderbird and the chance to own a part of Ford Motor Company. The company went public and, on Feb. 24, 1956, had about 350,000 new stockholders. Henry Ford II's keen perception of political and economic trends in the 50's led to the global expansion of FMC in the 60's, and the establishment of Ford of Europe in 1967, 20 years ahead of the European Economic Community's arrival. The company established its North American Automotive Operations in 1971, consolidating U.S., Canadian, and Mexican operations more than two decades ahead of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ford Motor Company started the last century with a single man envisioning products that would meet the needs of people in a world on the verge of high-gear industrialization. Today, Ford Motor Company is a family of automotive brands consisting of: Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo. The company is beginning its second century of existence with a worldwide organization that retains and expands Henry Ford's heritage by developing products that serve the varying and ever-changing needs of people in the global community.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Henry Ford, Inventor Profile    from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of the Automobile     from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of the Assembly Line 
  from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
The Ford Century: Ford Motor Company and the Innovations That Shaped the World
Russ Banham, Paul Newman / Hardcover: 272 pages / Artisan Sales; 1st edition (November 2002)
This is corporate history with the top down-a breezy, upbeat, illustrated cruise through the 100 years since the first Ford Motor Company's incorporation and its release of the Model A in 1903.
The American Auto Factory
Byron Olsen, Joseph P. Cabadas, Joe Cabadas / Hardcover - 192 pages / Motorbooks Int.(Oct. 2002)
Witness the evolution of the American auto factory beginning with the basic hand-built assembly of cars in the earliest part of the twentieth century, through the age of the assembly line, and up to today's robotically-operated lines.
Henry Ford: Young Man With Ideas
Hazel B. Aird / Paperback 192 pages / Aladdin Paperbacks - 1986
The early life of the American automotive industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company and pioneered in assembly-line methods of mass production
Today and Tomorrow
by Henry Ford / Hardcover: 300 pages / Productivity Press, Reprint edition (December 1989)
This autobiography by the world's most famous automaker reveals the thinking that changed industry forever and provided the inspiration for Just-In-Time.

Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, 1903-2003
by Douglas Brinkley / Hardcover: 858 pages / Viking Press; (April 28, 2003)
In conjunction with its 100th anniversary, the Ford Motor Company opened its monumental archives to the unfettered research of author/historian Douglas Brinkley. Few endeavors in history can match Ford Motor Company's impact on human civilization. Launched a century ago by a bumptious squad of clever eccentrics-led by the odd visionary mechanic Henry Ford-the first mass-production auto manufacturer would push the rest of the industrialized world into the modern age.
Model T : How Henry Ford Built a Legend
by David Weitzman / Hardcover: 40 pages / Crown Books for Young Readers; 1st ed.(July 9, 2002)
David Weitzman has meticulously documented the development of the assembly line and the many innovations and adaptations Ford put to use in making his famous Tin Lizzy.Filled with detailed black-and-white drawings, helpful text and captions, and fascinating quotes from Ford employees, this elegant book gives young readers a look at a mechanical genius in action.

ON THE WEB:
Celebrate Ford Motor Company's 100th Birthday
Get a detailed history of the company and join them in celebrating our anniversary by visiting the interactive, multimedia 100th Anniversary Celebration website.

Ford Motor Company Heritage
Get a brief overview of our history, from a revolutionary idea in 1903 to a global family of brands.
Henry Ford & Family
The story of Henry Ford is not of a prodigy entrepreneur or an overnight success. Ford grew up on a farm and might easily have remained in agriculture.
Ford Motor Company Products
Browse a lineup of vehicles across all Ford Motor Company brands.
Innovation at Ford
From Model T to GT, explore the latest trends in Ford Motor Company's vehicle  technology innovations.
The Good Works
Find out how Ford did as a business, a neighbor, and a global citizen.
About Ford Motor Company
From the brands that make us who we are, to the leaders that shape policy-get acquainted with the Ford Motor Company family.
Ford Biography
Henry enjoyed a childhood typical of the rural nineteenth century, spending days in a one-room school and doing farm chores. At an early age, he showed an interest in mechanical things and a dislike for farm work.Henry ford Museum presents a year by year history of the Ford Motor Company.


Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised July, 2004.
 
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