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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cars For Everyone - 'Life Cycles' And The Career Of Henry Ford

We are going to be featuring two of the biggest names from the annals of great inventors in this blog and my SECOND BLOG. What is also important, however, is that the inclusion of the story about the birth of mass-produced cars by Henry Ford; marks a significant statistical milestone for me. You see I am always mindful of the accusation that all my cases are self-selected. If you know my style by now, you will see case after detailed case, where I knew almost nothing of my subjects until my attention was drawn to them, because they featured in some element of current affairs. But, of course, the true sceptic and those who get their kicks by debunking the work of others, would pay scant heed to this and probably not even bother to read my copious evidence. Pity for them I would say, but still I have thought about the issue.

There are several approaches I could take, but since I do this pioneering analysis on my own, the easiest is to simply use an objectively derived list. Since I deal with so many famous and very famous lives it has given me the idea that I should try to examine everyone on a "Top 10/20/50 List of famous people" etc. One such list grabbed my attention almost by accident and that was the "Top 10 Most Influential People Of The Twentieth Century". See it for yourselves at THIS. You will see the following names :-

10. Henry Ford (analysis about to be done in this article)
9. Muhammad Ali Jinnah (analysis not done. He was to Pakistan as Gandhi was to India)
8. Mao Zedong (analysis has been done, but is currently unpublished)
7. The Wright Brothers (about to be featured later this year in a series of posts on families)
6. Adolf Hitler (already featured, but I have much greater detail still unpublished)
5. Winston Churchill (already featured in BOOK ONE)
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt (no analysis undertaken)
3. Mahatma Gandhi (extensive analysis already featured in THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION. Also a subject of my independent statistical analysis project)
2. Nelson Mandela (already featured in this blog and much more detail in LIFE CYCLES)
1. Albert Einstein (extensively featured in THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION).

So, at the completion of this article that will make 8/10 cases analysed, with either 'very good' or 'outstanding' correlations to my 'Life Cycles' 'significant years'. I didn't generate this list. By any definition these correlations are well in excess of what is considered as statistically significant. Very far beyond what mere chance occurrence would predict.

Back to Henry Ford. Henry was born July 30th. 1863. He founded the Ford Motor Corporation and although he didn't actually invent either the automobile or the assembly line, it was his vision that led to the production of the famous Model T, which was the first car that ordinary middle-class Americans could afford. In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that would profoundly impact the landscape of the twentieth century. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. In the process he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He supported consumerism and the mass production of inexpensive goods, and as a life-long pacifist, saw it as a key to achieving peace in the world. He truly made a giant contribution to mankind in every way.

But it wasn't always this way. He was not born great. When he was aged 12 and in his first Year of Revolution (1875-1876) his beloved mother died. He was expected to take over the farm, but he despised farm work, later leaving for several years to work as a machinist. His direction changed in his age 19 Year of Broken Pathways (1882-1883) when he became adept at operating a Westinghouse portable steam engine and was later hired by Westinghouse to service their steam engines. During this time he also began to study bookkeeping at a business college in Detroit. His new career direction was forming at this time, just as it does in so many other lives I study.

In his first adult age 24 Year of Revolution (1887-1888) he got married and supported himself by farming and running a sawmill. So, his new era then was to assume family responsibility and to continue his interest in machinery and engineering. After a few years he joined the Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer and was fairly soon promoted to the position of Chief Engineer. During his age 31 Year of Broken Pathways(1894-1895) he began a new direction by using some of his spare time to devote to his personal interest in gasoline engines. This was to mark a commencement of an uphill journey resulting in him designing and building a self-propelled vehicle called a Ford Quadricycle. With support from Edison he built a second vehicle, completing it in 1898. This was one year short of his central age 36 Year of Revolution. What happened then? Was he further promoted by Edison to become a partner in a separate business? Did he decide that without sufficient funds he would have to leave things be? Well maybe, it's always up to the individual. The achievements of people I write about are solely due to their own vision and hard work. It's just that there are some times in their lives when circumstances are very much in their favour.

Henry Ford was about to experience such a time. Backed by the capital of Detroit lumber baron William H. Murphy, Ford resigned from the Edison Company and founded the Detroit Automobile Company on August 5, 1899. So there you have it once again in letters two feet high :-

When Henry Ford was in his age 36 'Year of Revolution' he left employment with Edison found a wealthy backer and began his true life's work ie. to design and build inexpensive automobiles.

Unless you have an extremely closed mind this should come as an impressive result. However that's, as always, up to you. Let's go on with Henry's story shall we? August, 1899 may have been when he began his life's work, but it was not when he succeeded. At first the automobiles produced were of a lower quality and higher price than Ford wanted. Ultimately, the company was not successful and was dissolved in January 1901. Did this stop him? You know how it goes :- "well I gave it my best shot and that's it. I better go back to Edison's cap in hand." May have been what others did, but not Henry Ford. With the help of a younger engineer, C. Harold Willis, he built and successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile in October 1901. In 1902, he formed the Henry Ford Company and went to work trying to design an inexpensive automobile. Over the next several years he and his team worked on a series of Ford Model Cars, starting off with the letters A and then C (no the models were not simply alphabetic).

OK, the next and final 'significant year' I am going to deal with is when he was in his age 43 Year of Broken Pathways. Now I'll be the first to admit that it would have been very convenient indeed if this coincided with the launch of the Model T, but 'Life Cycles' is not science and the analysis involves going to the year in question, rather than simply dismissing the data as not fitting (that's where the subjectivity comes in). So, I am going to be looking one year short of the launch of the Model T in 1908, which will be a bridge between 1906-7. My question is therefore :- "What, if anything, happened then to constitute a direction change and uphill challenge?"

Following the Models A and C and other early attempts, there were several quite important developments in the history of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company in the exact period I need to study ie. July, 1906-July, 1907. I am very thankful for this resource, being a storyboard of that time and I strongly recommend you view it for yourselves HERE. I am writing this as I go. Here is the objective coverage which says :-

Early 1907 – Henry Ford tells Joseph Galamb that he has an idea to design a new car … Began construction of a walled off secured area to begin work on the new model. Formed a team of individuals to begin design of a new model to be released in 1908.
International Design Team (Team of 9)
 4 Americans… Henry Ford (engineer),
C. Harold Willis (design & metallurgist),
Edward Huff “Spider” (genius, electricity & magnets),
Edsel Ford (Henry’s son);
 2 Hungarians … Joseph Galamb (engineer, designer, draftsman),
Charles Balough (engineer & draftsman)
 1 Swedish … Charles Sorenson (wood patterns)
 1 German … Julius Hartenberger (designer)
 1 Canadian … C. James Smith (machinist joined 1906)

This, of course, is the now immortal Model T Ford

Not only that, but you can also read for yourselves how in this time Henry Ford was elected President of the Ford Motor Company and also that the company announced plans in the Press, saying they were going to be planning a factory at Highland Park by 1910. This, of course, formed part of the challenge for the next several years, typical of what I say happens in a Year of Broken Pathways. Also of interest, by way of uphill climbs, you will see coverage of a stock market crash and tight liquidity and that things did not improve till 1908.

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to the other aspect of 'Life Cycles'. Even though the biographical analysis is the major focus, it also involves the synthesis of material between similar 'significant years'. You know, if you did this at 24 and then that at 36, in what ways could they be considered similar? I use two terms here. The first is symbolic similarity, or where there is some general theme implied (and hopefully not one with a very long bow). The second I call substantive similarity. That's where there's almost a re-run of events 12 years apart. So let me end by saying that events when Henry Ford was in his age 31 Year of Broken Pathways were remarkably similar to what I have just covered regarding events in his age 43 Year of Broken Pathways. How so, I hear some ask.

Well if you remember when Henry was 31, he began to use his spare time by designing, on his own, a gasoline-powered vehicle, and that a year or so after this, he unveiled the first Ford Quadricycle. Now fast-forward 12 years to when he was 43 and this time he embarked on a secret mission to design the best model Ford, to be the ultimate affordable automobile, that would transform so many lives. The very next year he unveils the Model T Ford. Only difference is that he now had a small team of nine to help him and was playing on a much larger stage. This similarity of actions, magnified by being capable of influencing many more people, is something I have witnessed in many different cases and I have talked about it quite a few times in this blog. So, go back and have a look at the article on Barak Obama for starters. I hope you enjoyed this post, which was part-story, part-analysis and also part-tutorial. Till next month, when 'Life Cycles' returns with the story of the man behind Washington DC :- "May the cycles always bring you good fortune."