Wednesday 14th January 1914
Although the Model T has been around since 1908, the first Ford Model T that was made on an assembly line was completed. It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.The new process introduced at Ford’s Highland Park plant, Michigan, US revolutionized production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to about 90 minutes.Ford hired motion-study expert Frederick Taylor to make those jobs even more efficient. Meanwhile, he built machines that could stamp out parts automatically (and much more quickly than even the fastest human worker could).In February 1914, he added a mechanized belt that chugged along at a speed of six feet per minute. As the pace accelerated, Ford produced more and more cars, By reducing the money, time and manpower needed to build cars as he refined the assembly line over the years, Ford was able to drop the price of the Model T from $850 to less than $300. For the first time in history, quality vehicles were affordable to the masses. Eventually, Ford built a Model T every 24 seconds and sold more than 15 million worldwide by 1927, accounting for half of all automobiles then sold. Ford’s new approach spread rapidly, not only to other automakers but also to manufacturers of phonographs, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and other consumer goods. The assembly line became the characteristic American mode of production. In 1914, Ford instituted the “$5 workday,” a significant wage at the time, to enable his employees to buy the vehicles they built. The move created loyalty among Ford workers and is credited with giving rise to a new middle class of consumers unencumbered by geography, free to travel the open roads, to live where they please and chase the American dream.