Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist and business magnate. He was the founder of Ford Motor Company, and chief developer of the assembly line technique of mass production. Ford created the first automobile that middle-class Americans could afford, and his conversion of the automobile from an expensive luxury into an accessible conveyance profoundly impacted the landscape of the 20th century.
Ford was born on a farm in Michigan's Springwells Township to a Belgian family, leaving home at age 16 to work in Detroit. It was a few years before this time that Ford first experienced automobiles, and throughout the later half of the 1880s, Ford began repairing and later constructing engines, and through the 1890s worked with a division of Edison Electric. He officially founded Ford Motor Company in 1903, after prior failures in business but success in constructing automobiles.
Ford's 1908 introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized both transportation and American industry. As the Ford Motor Company sole owner, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with "Fordism", the mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford was also among the pioneers of the five-day work week. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout North America and major cities on six continents.
Ford was widely known for his pacifism during the first years of World War I. In the 1920s Ford promoted antisemitic content through his newspaper The Dearborn Independent, and the book, The International Jew. After his son Edsel died in 1943, Ford resumed control of the company but was too frail to make decisions and quickly came under the control of subordinates. He turned over the company to his grandson Henry Ford II in 1945. He died in 1947 after leaving most of his wealth to the Ford Foundation, and control of the company to his family.