Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

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1919 Ford Model T

Inline 4-cylinder engine, L-head valves, 177 cubic inches displacement, 20 horsepower.

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Mechanical simplicity was one of the secrets behind the Model T’s success. The engine has no fuel pump, relying on gravity to feed the carburetor. There is no water pump either, as a thermosyphon effect was used to circulate cooling water. The cylinder head removes in one piece for easier servicing. Electric start was first available in 1919. The electrical system’s generator is just visible at the front of the engine.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

A detail of the 1976 Apple 1 “motherboard” recently acquired by The Henry Ford (THF120186, Image Courtesy of Kristina Sikora/KMS Photography).

When I joined the staff of The Henry Ford, if someone had offered me a glimpse into the future—a bird’s eye view of the events that one short year would bring—it would have taken some time for me to suspend my disbelief. I would have been skeptical if anyone told me I’d play a part in bidding on and acquiring a rare, key, artifact in the history of computing. And if someone told me that this auction would break world records? This is information that I’m still trying to reconcile. Nothing could have prepared me for the anticipation I felt while sitting next to Marilyn Zoidis, former Director of Historical Resources, at Bonhams auctions in just a few short weeks ago. I’ll always remember the excitement in the room as we waited for Lot 285 to end—and for Lot 286 to arrive: the 1976 Apple 1 Computer.

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014 The Henry Ford achieved a major acquisition goal. Perhaps you’ve noticed the recent flurry of press: “The Henry Ford Acquires a 1976 Apple-1 Computer at Bonhams History of Science Auction.” Variations on this headline reveal a record-breaking bid amount of $905,000 – but they also hint at the importance, rarity, originality and provenance of this incredible piece of computing history.  At the time of this writing, over 1200 news mentions of the Apple 1 have appeared in print, television, radio, and social media outlets.

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Honda’s CR-V occupant detection system makes adjustments that are appropriate for each passenger when it deploys safety features like airbags.

How does a curator of communication and information technology who doesn’t drive experience her first North American International Auto Show? First, I took advantage of the convenient shuttle bus running into downtown Detroit from Dearborn. And when I arrived for press day at Cobo Hall, catching up with my colleagues after weaving through the maze of exhibits and crowds, they said I arrived looking a little… shell-shocked. My apparently palpable sense of wonder wasn’t directed towards the cars or the crowds, however—I was in awe with the technological cocoons in which they were displayed, and the surreal screen-world that I had stepped into.

Enormous and pristinely crisp LCD screens provided backdrops for automobiles. Touchscreen kiosks were everywhere. Each company seemed to be offering its own branded wireless hotspot. The usual standby of the printed brochure with specs had been replaced by download hubs for smartphone apps and kiosks to email yourself information from. The crowds of press were using cameras to share content through traditional broadcast and social media sites alike. Also, drones were buzzing around overhead at the Ford exhibit, tracking and delivering small models of the Raptor pickup truck to attendees who texted a special code. As the day went on, I kept thinking: what would a guest from 1907 (the year the Detroit Auto Show was founded) think of this spectacle? Continue Reading

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We’ve just digitized 238 items comprising the complete “E-M-F, Flanders, and Studebaker photographs, ca. 1910-1914” collection at The Henry Ford. As the description on ArchiveGrid notes, “E-M-F, launched in 1908 with an intent to build a mass produced automobile in a medium price range, was named for its three founders: Barney Everitt, successful Detroit automobile body-builder; William Metzger, premier Cadillac Motor Co. salesman; and Walter Flanders, resigned from the Ford Motor Co. as Henry Ford's first production manager.” Before long, the company partnered with Studebaker (producing at one point a Model T competitor named the Flanders 20), and by 1913, all E-M-F and Flanders vehicles became Studebakers.  This image shows one of the cars navigating some tricky terrain as a pathfinder for an AAA Glidden Tour, a grueling event designed to showcase the value of the automobile and point out the need for good roads. See all the digitized E-M-F, Flanders, and Studebaker images by visiting our collections website.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

Photo by KMS Photography

On this week’s episode of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation you’ll learn about Merino sheep. Want to learn even more? Take a look below.

Watch

Newborn lambs in Greenfield Village

Read

Reclaiming Old-Style Merinos

Bring the Boy to the Farm

Look

Firestone Family Farm Materials

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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1956 Chrysler 300-B Stock Car

V-8 cylinder engine, overhead valves, 354 cubic inches displacement, 355 horsepower.

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They didn’t call the Chrysler 300 letter series luxury cars “bankers’ hot rods” for nothing. The 1956 300-B’s big V-8 achieved that holy grail of one horsepower per cubic inch. The cars dominated NASCAR, where rules still restricted teams to stock power. Note the cutout in the right wheel well and the nearby spotlight. These modifications allowed the driver to check tire wear through a hole in the firewall.

Matt Anderson is the Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford. See this engine and many others during Engines Exposed at Henry Ford Museum.

Engines Exposed

This 1910 brochure depicted Henry Ford’s dream—a car in which “the great multitude” could spend" hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces." (ID.G32015)

When Ford Motor Company introduced its new Model T automobile on October 1, 1908, the car was the culmination of Henry Ford’s quest to develop an inexpensive, efficient and reliable vehicle that would put automobile ownership within the reach of far more people.

Yet even an inveterate optimist like Henry Ford could not predict the vast success and the far-reaching changes that this rather homely new vehicle would produce. Continue Reading

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The collections of The Henry Ford contain over a thousand examples of footwear of all types: boots, sandals, pumps, slippers, and more.  We’ve just digitized another six dozen or so pairs from our collections, in a variety of styles dating from the early 19th century through 2008.  One set designed for a very specific purpose is these size 5 1/2 “Nymph” bathing shoes, likely dating from the 1920s.  View close to 300 more pairs of shoes and related artifacts by visiting our digital collections!

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

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1960 Chevrolet Corvair Sedan

Horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine, overhead valves, 140 cubic inches displacement, 80 horsepower.

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The compact Corvair reimagined the American automobile. Not least among its peculiarities was its rear-mounted, air-cooled aluminum engine. The air cleaner is prominent, with two hoses leading to carburetors mounted on each cylinder bank. Much of the engine is hidden by a metal shroud that directed the air flow around the unit. With its light weight and air cooling, the Corvair power plant proved popular with home airplane builders.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Engines Exposed

Buick's 2016 Cascada convertible, one of the many new cars vying for attention at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has rolled into Detroit to give us our annual look at the technologies and trends shaping the automotive industry. The two words that might sum up the 2015 show best are “power” and “performance.” On the former, nearly every manufacturer features some form of alternative fuel vehicle, while some – I’m looking at you, Tesla – offer nothing but. To the latter point, hot new cars from Cadillac, Ford and others promise old fashioned excitement behind the wheel.

Toyota’s innovative Mirai. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, its only tailpipe emission is water vapor.

Toyota wasn’t the first automaker to market with a hybrid car, but its Prius went on to define the type. The company hopes to do the same for fuel cell vehicles with its remarkable Mirai sedan. The car is powered by an electric motor, but the electricity itself is generated by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen that takes place in a fuel cell. The only emission from the car is water vapor. The Mirai is about as green as it gets but, while gas pumps and electrical outlets are a dime a dozen, hydrogen fueling stations are harder to come by outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Clearly, Toyota is betting on that to change. Interestingly, one of Toyota’s NAIAS displays includes a pair of faux hydrogen pumps. Visitors will be surprised and, Toyota must hope, reassured to see that they’re not much different from gasoline pumps. Continue Reading

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