Henry Ford is far more than a footnote in history. He is not only credited with inventing the first gas-powered automobile, but creating the assembly line that brought this modern form of transportation to the masses (and consequently, changed the face of mass production).
While this famous inventor is naturally known for this massive success, including dozens of patents for car parts, he was an engineer and inventor who worked for The Edison Illuminating Company before he set out on his own to make automobiles. Although he spent years expanding on the success of his original Model A, he also had a number of other, lesser known innovations.
What else did Henry Ford invent? Here are a few items you might not know about.
It's a little-known fact that Henry Ford's first foray into transportation was not with the Model A, but a gas-powered quadricycle, a four-wheeled, open-air, horseless carriage featuring bicycle wheels and a 2-cylinder gas engine that put out roughly four horsepower. Call it the precursor to the modern automobile.
He also applied for patents for an automotive railway car in 1921 and a railway car truck in 1922, both of which were issued in 1924. These patents featured internal combustion engines and gas turbines at a time when steam locomotives were still the norm.
Ford even ventured into aeronautics during WWI, eventually acquiring the Stout Metal Airplane Company and developing a trimotor plane that became the first successful U.S. passenger plane, because of its ability to seat up to 12.
Tilting Device for Hospital Bed
Among his many patents for clutches, brakes, engine valves, and other automotive parts, you'll find a few Henry Ford inventions that don't fit the pattern, including a tilting device for hospital beds that he applied for in 1921 and was issued in 1924. Perhaps this particular invention remains relatively unknown because it wasn't as successful as his automotive empire, or it could be that it simply didn't drastically improve on existing designs.
Okay, Henry Ford didn't invent the idea of paying workers a fair wage for a day's work, but he was definitely ahead of the times. The U.S. wouldn't implement minimum wage until 1938, when it was just $0.25 per hour, or $2 for eight hours of work.
Much earlier, Ford began offering a daily wage of $5 in a bid to attract skilled factory workers and minimize the high turnover that plagued early operations. In 1926, he also bucked the trend of long hours common to industrial operations by implementing a 40-hour work week designed to boost worker productivity.
Although Henry Ford will always be best known for inventing the gas-powered automobile and the assembly line that made cars accessible to the consumer public, his agile mind and innovative nature are also responsible for planes, trains, and even livable wages for factory workers.