Welcome to the machine

“Henry Ford had once been an ordinary automobile manufacturer. Now he experienced an ecstasy greater and more intense than that vouchsafed to any American before him, not excepting Thomas Jefferson. He had caused a machine to replicate itself endlessly. His executives and managers and assistants crowded around him to shake his hand. Tears were in their eyes. He allotted sixty seconds on his pocket watch for a display of sentiment. Then he sent everyone back to work. He knew there were refinements to be made and he was right. By controlling the speed of the moving belts he could control the workers’ rate of production. He did not want a worker to stoop over or to take more than one step from his work site. The worker must have every second necessary for his job but not a single unnecessary second. From these principles Ford established the final proposition of the theory of industrial manufacture—not only that the parts of the finished product be interchangeable, but that the men who build the products be themselves interchangeable parts.”

E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime