Peter Jennings: Hello, this is channel 1,111, and we are here with myself, Peter Jennings, and our special guest today, Henry Ford. I feel very lucky to be sitting here with Mr. Ford since he is the founder of the assembly line which allowed mass production of the automobiles that we all drive around everyday. Hello, Mr. Ford.
Henry Ford: Hello, Peter.
Peter: Well, we have a few questions for you, if weíre not interrupting your work.
Henry: Oh, not at all, although I was working on one of my latest models. I would be happy to answer some questions.
Peter: Iíve been told that you have always loved machines, is this true?
Henry: Yes, it is very true. I have loved machines ever since I saw my first one in 1876. It was a huge machine that carried all of the travelerís supplies. It was run by a gas engine. The machineís engine was what gave me the idea of the horseless buggy when I was just 13 years old. Ever since the day that I saw that machine I have always been working on or thinking about some kind of machine myself. I was determined to figure out a way to transport things without having to rely on a horse and cart.
Peter: I hear that you hated working on the farm. Why was that?
Henry: I couldnít stand the farm work. It took so long to plow the fields, and then there was the picking of the corn, and all of the stuff that you had to do by horse or man power. I especially hated it because I always knew that there had to be a faster way to do things. My father would always say that there wasnít. I was always getting yelled at by my father for not plowing the field or something like that.
Peter: After leaving the farm, when did you get your first job and what was it?
Henry: Well, to answer the when, that would be in 1889 when I was 16 years old. As for the what, my first job was as a machinist at a company in Detroit, Michigan, where I assembled and repaired machinery. I had to move to Detroit to be able to work there. My father was worried about me being alone and in Detroit, so he said that he would give me his entire farm if I would move back with him, and I did. So my first job didnít last too long. This job really helped me to start up my ideas for a car. I knew how to work on machinery and knew how different parts could work together. That made it easy for me to figure out the simplest design and the most efficient way of production, which allowed for the cost to be lower.
Peter: A lot of people know about you even today, why do you suppose that is?
Henry: Well, a lot of people refer to me as the inventor of the car, but I didnít do that, Olds did. So, I get a lot more credit for that instead of for what I really invented, which was the assembly line. What Iím saying is that most people in the world who donít work in car factories, or some other kind of car business donít really know me for what I really invented.
Peter: That is probably true, Henry. As for the assembly line, do you really think that it continues to help people in todayís society?
Henry: You know what, Peter, I do. If we didnít have the assembly line today, we wouldnít have the ability to build many of the things that we have now. The assembly line makes things more efficient because each person only has one or two jobs to concentrate on so production moves along faster. This was different compared to how production had been working, which was one person performing every step in building a car or some other item. In an assembly line each person has a designated responsibility. If there is a problem with production, it can be figured out quicker by just going through the assembly line and singling out where the problem is. The way that I made the assembly line was so that no one had to move around. As the part came to you, you did your job and then it moved on, but you did not. The way it worked was it had a 250 foot long conveyor belt that carried all of the parts for the car. I had to time the conveyor belt exactly at the right time so that the parts were always in front of the person who was going to work on them. If we didnít have assembly lines that would make the world a lot different because we use assembly lines for many other things besides building automobiles today. Also, if we didnít have the assembly line a lot of people would not have the computers we all have, we wouldnít have planes to fly us anywhere, and some of us might not even have cars.
The assembly line also saved time as well as money. This allowed us to sell the cars for less. It took twelve hours less for a car to be made on an assembly line than it had before. That is how my assembly line worked and how it helped the average person be able to afford my more inexpensive cars.
Peter: What really led you to inventing the assembly line and making cars?
Henry: Well, what really led me to those things was the farm I grew up on and my dad. Ever since I was younger I always thought that there was a faster way to do farm work, so I was always trying to prove to my dad that there was a faster way. He would never believe me, so that made me determined to make a machine that would prove my idea, and that is how I got to where I am today. I wanted to make something that would be more efficient and possibly make things easier for people, both on the farm and in manufacturing businesses. The car makes it a lot easier to travel, because it helps transport people around better, it doesnít depend on the weather, and it can handle a much rougher terrain than the horse and buggy. The assembly line makes it easier on the workers who make the cars because they can become experts in their field or skill, and cars can be produced more quickly and at a smaller cost.
Peter: Do you think you were as important when you younger or right now?
Henry: Well, Peter, thatís a good question. I think that I am more important now because not as many people used my invention back then. It was a new idea and people were unsure about it. Although no one used my invention right away, I used it to build my cars at the plant, and that got people interested in how it worked. This seemed to really influence the price of my cars since we could make the cars faster, and so many people wanted them. We were able to sell them for less expensive prices. None of the other car companies of that time sold their cars for inexpensive prices. We definitely had an advantage in that area. We had more demand since we had the least expensive price, and we had one of the best cars being made. Our price also made it possible for just about everyone to afford a car, and since so many could afford them and did buy them, we were able to have great success. We were able to continue to buy the parts for the cars so that we could produce the amount that was wanted.
Today, my assembly line invention is used by millions of people everyday for building all kinds of things. It has allowed businesses to produce large amounts of their products in less time than if it all had to be done by hand, and over the years it has only become better and more efficient. The name Ford Motor Company is known all over the world, and it all started with me trying to prove something to my father. I am proud of my success, and to be part of history.
Peter: Well, Mr. Ford, you should be proud because you are an important part of history.
I guess that is going to be all for today. Mr. Henry Ford passed away in 1947. You can learn more about Mr. Ford at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. There you will see some of his work like the Model T, that was sold with the famous advertisement "You can get it in any color, as long as itís black." You can also see one of the first assembly lines Henry Ford put together. When you are there, remember that he collected all of the outstanding displays and artifacts in the museum. He created this beautiful museum and village so that there would be preservation of so many historical and famous artifacts, including many of Mr. Fordís own inventions. That is all the time we have for tonight. So, for channel 1,111, this is Peter Jennings. Good night, and we will see you next time.
Henry Ford Timeline
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