John Edmonds of Freightos sent me this history of the shipping container in time for the 60th anniversary of the first container shipment, the Ideal X, on April 26th.
I found it useful reading. It never hurts to remind ourselves of the disruptive effect mass acceptance of a standard has on coordinating efforts in an industry. We see it over and over in high tech, energy, autos, manufacturing.
Of course some standards fail to be accepted (for instance, beta video tape), and fall by the wayside. But we cannot advance if we do not try; that is the nature of disruptive entrepreneurial behavior in business.
Such is the dilemma facing ocean carriers and alliances today. Perfect competition will not yield profit; the surplus will go to those with critical inputs. Instead the pie must be made bigger by coordinating efforts through standards. This will inevitably create niches in which particular firms can survive nicely by adding their special value.
A comprehensive history of the freight shipping container; its creator, Malcolm McLean; and how it’s driven the industry, the global economy, and more.