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The Ford Motor Company is as much a symbol of America as baseball and apple pie. If you ask someone who invented the automobile, nine times out of ten, you will get the answer, "Henry Ford." That's not quite true. In fact, the world's first car manufacturers were French.

What Henry Ford did was one step better. He figured out a way to manufacture cars that were affordable and available for the average American. Ford's competitors were building expensive cars for the affluent, luxuries.

In 1903, Henry Ford and several investors started the Ford Motor Company in a converted factory in Detroit, Michigan. Ford's first production was in 1903, the Model A, with an under the floor engine selling for $850. In the first season it sold 1,708 cars. By 1903, the Ford Motor Company was both profitable and successful.

Ford initially produced just a few cars a day with groups of two or three men working on each car. Wanting to speed up the process, Henry worked on improving the assembly line. He installed the first conveyor belt-based assembly line in his factory. Having revamped the assembly line, Ford made mass production a reality. Now, instead of the worker going to the car, the car came to the worker, transforming the auto industry. Production costs and assembly time both decreased with the new assembly line, making Ford the world's largest car manufacturer, and the Model T reasonably priced, reliable, and efficient.

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