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Henry Ford
A crafty engineer, Henry Ford built his first automobile in 1896. A predecessor to the 1907 Model T, the Quadracycle consisted of a simple motor mounted on a buggy frame. Before Ford began to produce the automobiles that made him famous, he had been an unimpressive student from a Michigan farming family. But he began to demonstrate skill and interest in mechanical work, and left farming and business school behind to work with machines. He learned about steam engines at his job with Westinghouse, and later worked as an engineer for Edison Electric Illuminating Company. As Ford Motors developed, he hoped to emulate Edison. Ford died in 1947 a fabulously wealthy and influential businessman.

Photo: Library of Congress