Henry Ford Introduced the Assembly Line Exactly 103 Years Ago

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assembly line

Henry Ford was a man destined for greatness. His legacy is one of obsession for totalitarian power, but also one of greatness, prosperity, and history-altering feats. One of those feats (though there are many), was the invention of the assembly line.

This week 103 years ago, Henry Ford unveiled the assembly line at his Ford factory in Michigan. He didn’t know it then (or maybe he did), but his second biggest industrial invention would go on to revolutionize the world forever. Perhaps even more than the motorized carriage ever would. After all, several similar concepts of the same type of vehicle already existed, so it was just a matter of time to a certain extent.

assembly line

Seeing an assembly line nowadays isn’t a big deal. It’s a process that many laborers have come to accept, manufacturers love, and bottom line lovers adore. It’s the speed and efficiency of a moving assembly line that grants manufacturers the productivity they need in order to be profitable. But in some ways, it’s also an insult to the master craftsman, and that’s how it was seen in 1913, and even today.

Before the assembly line, a single vehicle was assembled in one static station. All the parts came to that station, not the other way around. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, a 1920s machine worker at a Ford plant once commented, “The machine I’m on goes at such a terrific speed that I can’t help stepping on it in order to keep up with the machine. It’s my boss.”

assembly line

Several automobile manufacturers still build vehicles in similar old-school fashion, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, etc. Though even said high pedigree brands feature assembly lines in one way or another. In the end, there’s no slowing down, and that’s something Henry Ford very much adhered to. Progression, efficiency, and the utmost labor productivity.

Even the iconic Charlie Chaplin was once featured in a film highlighting the assembly line, the movie is adequately titled: “Factory Work.” So, next time you get in your car, hold your smartphone, or even open up a cold one, thank the assembly line for that. Oh, and Henry Ford, too.

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Photos via: [Ford]

Jerry Perez is a regular contributor to Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum, and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

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