Lifelong Friends and Collaborators: Ford and Edison
In 1893, Henry Ford was made chief engineer at Edison Illuminating Company’s main plant in Detroit. Charged with keeping the city’s electricity flowing, Ford was on call 24 hours a day, with no regular working hours. When he wasn’t working, he could tinker away at his real goal of building a gasoline-powered vehicle. He completed his first functioning gasoline engine at the end of 1893, his first horseless carriage, called the Quadricycle, by 1896.
In 1896, Henry Ford attended a convention in Manhattan Beach, New York, where the honorary guest of honor was no other than the renowned Thomas Edison. During the night, a friend pointed out Ford to Edison telling him, “There’s a young fellow who has made a gas car.” The defining moment of the evening came after Edison asked young Ford poignant questions and showed his satisfaction by banging his fist down on the table. “Young man,” he said, “that’s the thing! You have it! Your car is self contained and carries its own power plant.”
Ford’s bold ideas and charisma, helped assemble a group of investors who established the Detroit Automobile Company in early August 1899. That same year, Ford left Edison Illuminating Company, turning down a salary offer of $1,900 per year and the title of general superintendent to become mechanical superintendent of the new auto company, with a salary of $150 per month.