This Day In History: Model T Assembly Line Starts For First Time 100 Years Ago


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To commemorate the centennial of the start of the Model T assembly line at Ford’s Highland Park plant, here is a series of stereo photos taken at that factory by the Keystone View Company. Henry Ford didn’t really invent the assembly line. Ransom Olds was building curved-dash Oldsmobiles on an assembly line over a decade before Ford realized it was the only way he could further improve productivity and lower the price of the Model T. Ford, did however make a contribution to mass production. It was Ford’s idea, inspired by Taylorism, the theory of scientific time management, to break assembly down to the simplest, most discrete tasks, something even an unskilled laborer could do. Ironically, the resulting job was so mentally and physically draining, having to do the same simple task thousands of times a day, meant an insanely high turnover rate of new hires, which is what led Henry Ford to start paying his workers $5 a day.

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