Henry Ford

In search of the greatest inventors and technology innovators

In search of the greatest inventors and technology innovatorsIn this section of GeekHistory we put some of the buzzwords into perspective to help you understand and appreciate great inventors and technology innovators.

In the previous article we took a look at a true visionary Jules Verne. Visionaries see what is possible, often before the technology exists to make it real.

The inventors often take visions of others and made them real by proving the concepts in laboratory or by creating the prototype. There are innovators who take a good invention and make it great, transforming the inventions into commercial products

What is the difference between innovation and invention?

There are people like Henry Ford, who spanned multiple categories, who take an invention and develop it into an industry. Let's use Ford as an example to look at the buzzwords.

Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile. German engine designer Karl Friedrich Benz is recognized for the invention of the first automobile. He Benz received a patent for the Benz Patent Motorcar in 1886. His Benz Patent Motorcar powered by an internal combustion engine.

But Benz invented the automobile using the internal combustion engine, which was developed by German engineer Nikolaus August Otto in the 1860s.

Henry Ford didn't invent the assembly line, nor did he invent the concept of an automotive assembly line. Ransom Eli Olds, for whom both the Oldsmobile and REO brands were named, is credited with designing the basic concept of the assembly line. At the Old Motor Works in Detroit he mass produced the Curved Dash Oldsmobile becoming the leading American auto producer from 1901 through 1904. By 1901 Olds had built 11 prototype vehicles, including at least one of each power mode: steam, electricity and gasoline.

No, Henry Ford did not invent "the automobile," but Henry Ford was an inventor of automobiles. Henry Ford designed his first car, the Quadricycle, while he was employed by Thomas Edison.

No, Henry Ford did not invent "the assembly line," but Henry Ford was the first to use a moving assembly line to manufacture cars. Henry Ford perfected the assembly line producing a entire Model T Ford in 93 minutes. Henry Ford created lower cost automobiles, and created an industry.

Henry Ford creates ultimate history museum of Industrial Revolution

The ultimate geek history museum complex of the Industrial RevolutionHenry Ford created the ultimate geek history museum complex of the Industrial Revolution in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

Collectively called "The Henry Ford" the history museum complex is comprised of the large indoor Henry Ford Museum, and the outdoor Greenfield Village. The museum complex also has an IMAX movie theatre and offers the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

Ford collects the history of the common man

In the Chicago Tribune in 1916 Henry Ford was quoted as saying that "history is more or less bunk." Ford qualified that remark by saying he was referring to written history which talked about wars and politicians, but the history taught in school did not record the history of the common man.

By the late 1920s, Henry Ford had become the primary collector of Americana in the world. Ford started with collecting antiques and household goods, but he later moved on to collecting historic structures with the creation of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford also began collecting materials for a museum with a theme of practical technology.

The Edison Institute opened in 1929 as a private site for educational purposes only, based on Henry Ford's desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution. The Edison Institute Museum, now known as The Henry Ford Museum, is a traditional museum reflecting Henry Ford's love of farm tools, home appliances, furniture and industrial machines. There are also large exhibits of automotive and locomotive technology.

Greenfield Village

Next door to the Henry Ford Museum is Greenfield Village, a vast array of famous homes and buildings that Henry Ford moved from their original location and reconstructed there. One of the most interesting analogies I have heard describing Greenfield Village is that Henry Ford collected buildings like some people collect stamps.

The original purpose for Greenfield Village, from Henry Ford's point of view, was for educational purposes. He felt the best way for the country's youth to learn by experiencing things first-hand. Many of the first buildings at Greenfield Village were from the life of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Ford named it Greenfield Village, after his wife's hometown.

Greenfield Village started with a loving restoration of Ford's boyhood home. When workmen recovered broken bits of his mother's dishes, Ford had her china reproduced and placed on the shelves just as it had been when he was growing up. He built a replica of the workbench where he had repaired watches as a boy, scoured antique shops to find furniture he remembered from his youth, and filled dresser drawers with shawls like those his mother had worn.

Automotive innovator Henry Ford changed everything

Even if geeks Henry Ford and lifelong friend Thomas Edison invented nothing their innovations changed everythingThe legacy of Henry Ford and his mark on the world of technology in the modern industrial era is significant. There are numerous debates in the realms of geek history as to what credit should be given to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison for various inventions.

People point out that Edison did not invent the light bulb, he was simply a business man. Edison realized that experimentation and research takes money. Edison's first invention was the Universal Stock Ticker in 1869. Edison used the money he earned from the stock ticker to start his "invention factory." Edison paid workers to conduct numerous tedious experiments so he did not have to do the boring manual tasks himself. I think that is pretty genius.

Remarks are made that Henry Ford was not an inventor, he was an industrialist that sold automobiles. While it is true that Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he perfected the assembly line to create lower cost automobiles, and create an industry.

During the modern industrial era from the mid 19th century to the early 20th the world was changing rapidly thanks in part to geeks like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Even if Henry Ford and Thomas Edison invented nothing their contributions to science and technology changed everything.

Henry Ford automotive designer

The son of a Michigan farmer, Henry Ford was a childhood geek who loved tinkering with machinery. When Henry turned 16 years old his father William arranged for Henry to stay with an aunt in Detroit. Henry hoped to find work where he could learn more about machinery. For more than a decade Henry Ford worked in various shops perfecting his skills as a machinist. Henry began working at the Edison Illumination Company as a steam engineer in 1891. After his promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893, Ford had enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on gasoline engines.

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