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Fascinating facts about  Ransom Olds
inventor of the assembly line in 1901.

Ransom Olds

AT A GLANCE:
In order to keep up with the increasing demand for those newfangled contraptions, horseless carriages, Ransom E. Olds created the assembly line in 1901. The new approach to putting together automobiles enabled him to more than quadruple his factory’s output, from 425 cars in 1901 to 2,500 in 1902. Both the Oldsmobile and Reo automobile brands were named after him.
Inventor: Ransom Eli Olds
Ransom Olds photo courtesy R.E. Olds Transporation Museum
Criteria: Early innovator. Entrepreneur.
Birth: June 3, 1864 in Geneva, Ohio
Death: August 26, 1950 in Lansing, Michigan
Nationality: American

In 1895 Ransom's father opened a machine shop in Lansing, Mich., in which Ranson became a partner. There he developed an internal combustion engine that he incorporated into a car. In 1897 he opened the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, replacing his father’s shop, and the Olds Gasoline Engine Works. The vehicle company sputtered, but the engine company succeeded. In 1899 Olds moved to Detroit, formed the Olds Motor Works, and designed and produced the popular Oldsmobile. With its low price, easy assembly, and stylish curved dashboard, this was the first car to be produced in quantity. When his backer wanted a more expensive car, Olds quit to form Reo Motor Car Company and organized subsidiary companies to supply him with parts. In 1915, after a softening in the auto market, Olds formed the Ideal Power Lawn Mower Company to manufacture his newest invention.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
The Entrepreneur    from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of the Assembly Line   from The Great Idea Finder
Henry Ford Biography  
from The Great Idea Finder
Invention of the Automobile  
from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden / Paperback: 260 pages / John Wiley & Sons; (September 1997)
Filled with wacky and fascinating facts, awe-inspiring success statistics, and rags-to-riches stories, Chronicles the odd origins behind 50 famous inventions and reveals the business side of each product's actual production, marketing, and distribution.
Setting the Pace: Oldsmobile's First 100 Years

Helen Jones Earley, James R. Walkinshaw / Hardcover / Publications International - 1997
Excellent information about Oldsmobile's cars and people.
The Machine That Changed the World
by James P. Womack, Daniel Roos, Daniel Jones / Hardcover: 323 pages / Rawson Assoc (1990)

Today, the industrial world is experiencing the most revolutionary change since Ramsom E. Olds assembly line -- which forever changed the way things are made. Japanese companies are sweeping the world, as Western companies and governments struggle to find ways to emulate them.

ON THE WEB:
Oldsmobile
The official web site of General Motors, Oldsmobile Division.
Olds History
In 1895, Ransom Eli Olds, a manufacturer of stationary gasoline engines, teamed up with Frank
Clark, the son of a small carriage shop operator, to achieve what many believed impossible. They successfully produced a self contained, gasoline-powered carriage.
Mass Production and the Assembly Line
Ford installs first moving assembly line in 1913
Auto History Online
Website of the Society of Automotive Historians, Inc.
Ransom E. Olds 1864-1950
He is considered by many to be the founder of the automobile industry. He built the first factory to use an assembly line manufacturing process.
Olds Motor Works
Historical information from the State of Michigan records.

R.E. Olds Transporation Museum
Information about one of The Ten Best Automobile Museums in the United States.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Last Oldsmobile: The last Oldsmobile, an Alero, rolled off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan on Thursday April 29, 2004. The car will be displayed at the R.E. Olds Museum also in Lansing, Michigan.

Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised October 19, 2006.
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