Dr. Martin Luther King's contributions to the advancement of civil rights in this country defines the word "leadership". He was a visionary leader who was deeply committed to achieving social justice through nonviolent means.
In celebration of Dr.King's birthday this past Monday, we thought we'd highlight past leaders in the manufacturing world who made very different but equally important contributions to today's advanced technologies. Each of them had their own unique leadership styles with one important trait in common; they were all visionaries. They each saw the potential of creating a better, more efficient system or machine to complete a task. While the official “Industrial Revolution” may be over, our society still benefits from the work of these current day visionaries.
Henry Ford (1863-1947)
Ford was a major influence in creating the world we live in today. According to the Henry Ford organization, “Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. He didn’t even invent the assembly line. But more than any other single individual, he was responsible for transforming the automobile from an invention of unknown utility into an innovation that profoundly shaped the 20th century and continues to affect our lives today.” In 1903, he established the Ford Motor Company, and five years later the company rolled out the first version of the Model T. To meet overwhelming demands he introduced new mass-production methods, including large production plants, the use of standardized, interchangeable parts and, in 1913, the world’s first moving assembly line for cars.
Eli Whitney (1765-1825)
Often credited as a pioneer in manufacturing, U.S. born inventor Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized the production of cotton. By the mid-19th century, cotton had become America’s leading export. Whitney had many problems with patent-infringement issues and despite its success, the gin made very little money for Whitney. He later secured a major contract to build muskets for the U.S. government. Through this project, he promoted the idea of interchangeable parts and standardized, identical parts that made for faster assembly and easier repair of various devices.
Simeon North (1765-1852)
North is generally credited with the invention of the milling machine-the first entirely new type of machine invented in America. He also obtained a contract to make pistols and began to add a factory to the mill building. The first known milling machine was in use by 1818. North had a 53-year contractual relationship with the War Dept. North would never serve in the military, but would play an outsized role in equipping it. Years later, he would become the nation's first official pistol maker, supplying the U.S. Army and Navy with tens of thousands handguns and rifles over more than 50 years.
Samuel Slater- (1768- 1835)
Samuel Slater was known as the “Father of the American Industrial Revolution” and was an American Industrialist. He was born in Derbyshire, England and was the son of a yeoman farmer. Slater went to work at an early age as an apprentice for the owner of a cotton mill. Without drawings or models, he continued to build machines, doing much of the work himself. Eventually rising to the position of superintendent, he became familiar with cotton-thread spinning mill machines designed by Richard Arkwright, a genius whose other advances included using water power to drive his machines and dividing labor among groups of workers. Slater organized a new firm called, Samuel Slater and Company in 1798. His roller spinning mill was complete in 1801, and it became the first in Massachusetts to use the Arkwright system. By the end of his life in 1828, he owned thirteen spinning mills.
Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468)
Johannes Gutenberg was born 1395, in Mainz, Germany. He started experimenting with printing by 1438. Gutenberg's masterpiece, and the first book ever printed from movable type is the “Forty-Two-Line” Bible. According to the Gutenberg.de website,” The genius of Gutenberg's invention was to split the text into its individual components, such as lower and upper case letters, punctuation marks, ligatures and abbreviations, drawing on the traditions of medieval scribes. These individual items were then cast in quantity as mirror images and assembled to form words, lines, and pages.”