Home > For the sailors: Hone your innovation skills, From the tavern: Innovation stories and opinions > Henry Ford, June 4, 1896 – A story of Passion and Perseverance

Henry Ford, June 4, 1896 – A story of Passion and Perseverance

It was on a 4th of June – June 4, 1896 – that Henry Ford first drove his Quadricycle, an ethanol-powered proto-automobile. Ford was 32. He had left the family farm at 15. The quadricycle was the outcome of many years of passion for everything mechanical, from watches to industrial machines, and perseverance in experimenting with portable engines.

By then, driven by a passion that made up for lack of formal education, he had risen to chief engineer at Edison Illuminating Company. 1896 was also the year when he was introduced to Thomas Edison for the first time. Encouraged by the legendary innovator, Ford continued to experiment with automotive design and soon left his employer to move from prototyping to business.

His first venture however, the Detroit Automotive Company, made only 20 trucks and went bust. Returning for a few months to prototyping, he built and successfully raced a new car, which won him the backing of investors for a second venture, the Henry Ford Company. But disagreement with his main investor on the running of the company led Ford to leave the company bearing his name. He formed a new partnership caled Ford & Malcomson Ltd that came close to financial collpase before being reincorporated as the Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903.

It would take another 5 years of passion and perseverance to launch on October 1, 1908, Model T, the first real commercial success. But what a success! By 1918 half of all American cars were Model T. The rest, as they say, is history.

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