Henry Ford is credited with the invention of the assembly line, and rightfully so. The assembly line sparked the level of mass production that is still influential today. However, the assembly line is the process of manufacturing. The actual act of manufacturing existed long before Henry Ford. The single most unique aspect Henry Ford introduced to manufacturing was making interchangeable parts a reality. As far back as the 6th century BC, instruction manuals have been discovered for making various products. This is evidence that specialized labor was utilized anciently.
Specialized labor is certainly valuable today. However, it raises an important question. Should individuals specialize in the work force? As far as being able to maintain current employment, it is a difficult question. It may be more important to be able to adapt in todays workforce than to specialize. If an individual is an expert in seat-belt safety, and tomorrow technology makes the need for seat-belts obsolete, the seat-belt safety expert will need to adapt to stay relevant. An individual that is a jack-of-all-trades will have an easier time adapting to change, but will still need to be able to compete with experts.