Fun Facts with Hamilton: The Assembly Line and the Model T 

Without a doubt, manufacturing wouldn’t be where it is today without Henry Ford and his assembly line! So, because we just enjoyed Labor Day and in celebration of modern-day manufacturing, here is your next edition of Fun Facts with Hamilton!

  1. Interchangeable Parts  

Before the Industrial Revolution, manufactured goods were created with parts often hand-crafted by people with different skill levels and different grades of tools. Things like guns and farm equipment were costly and highly individualized.

Eli Whitney brought the European idea of interchangeable parts to America for musket production during the Industrial Revolution. As a result, gun parts, created with standardized machinery and many workers, were produced in mass quantities — each the same as the other. These interchangeable and standardized parts regulated and increased overall production while lowering cost. Thus, they were important in the future of mass production and the assembly line.

  1. Originally Developed By

Contrary to popular thought, the originator of the assembly line in America was not Henry Ford, but Ransom Olds, the founder of Olds Motor Works. He designed and produced the 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile using an assembly line, also using interchangeable parts. He sold the car for $650. His assembly line enabled him to quadruple his production from 425 cars in 1901 to 2500 in 1902. By 1905, he was producing 5000 cars per year.  

  1. Henry Ford 

Born on July 30th, 1863, Henry Ford had a lifelong interest in machinery and mechanics.

In 1896, Ford built his very first quadricycle in Detroit, MI. In 1903, he and twelve other investors created the Ford Motor Company, of which Ford held a 25.5% share. On October 1st, 1908, Ford Motor Company released the first Model T. At the beginning of 1908, cars were for the elite. Ford’s Model T cost about $825, which today is approximately $18,000. The vehicle may have been expensive, but it was created to be durable and efficient. It was made for the ordinary man. Henry wanted his car to be accessible. Cars weren’t just for the wealthy, he believed, but for every working family. He took hold of Ransom Olds’ idea and adapted and improved the concept. On December 1st, 1913, Ford introduced the assembly line to Ford Motors, using interchangeable parts and a conveyor belt.  The car moved down the line, from “station to station,” pulled by a rope. In 1914, he introduced a mechanized belt that moved the automobile at a speed of six feet per minute, revolutionizing production! The Model T was created in just 84 steps, producing a finished car in 90 minutes. Ford Motor Company produced the Model T exclusively, and from 1908 to 1927, Ford built over 15 million vehicles. This production-run record remained unsurpassed for another fifty years.

In 1919, he and his wife and son became sole owners of the company. It remains primarily in the family to this day. Throughout his life, Ford was highly celebrated and acknowledged as a titan of the industry. In 1999, he was posthumously awarded the Businessman of the Century.

It wasn’t long before Ford’s vision became a reality and Americans all over the country were driving cars. Today 91.3% of American households own at least one car!

Manufacturing continues to grow and change. Technology and robotics have added whole new dimensions to the industry. At Hamilton Connections, we truly celebrate the innovative spirit of the American workforce!