From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States by David HounshellA. Synopsis: To determine how mass production arose and define its historical background. The thesis is that mass production differed in kind and in scale from the techniques of the American System of Manufactures. The American system had a strong beginning in the armories, but it did not spread immediately to other industries. High end products like Singer sewing machines and McCormick reapers were sold by successful marketing techniques and craft production. The bicycle served as a bridge between the American System and mass production. It was only with Ford that the first true mass production began.
B. The American System arose in the Armories
1. The origins of the American System of arms production was in France where Honoré Blanc attempted a “uniformity” system for their weapons
a) Jefferson then introduced this idea into America in 1788
b) Since France was so influential in our American Revolution their ideas were regarded highly
c) Soon the US War Department and ordnance officers demanded interchangeability
2. Simeon North and Eli Whitney received government contracts for interchangeable guns
a) North used the principle of “If A=B and B=C, then A=C” and developed gauges for his parts
b) Whitney understood the principles of interchangeability but never employed they effectively (he was more of a publicist than a creator)
3. The government established armoires at Springfield, Mass. And Harpers Ferry
a) John Hall’s rifle works was located at Harpers Ferry where two important streams of manufacturing technology merged
b) Interchangeable parts was combined with mechanization (machines could make things better and faster than man)
c) The result was the American System of Manufactures (1827)
4. Other areas of mass production in the Ante-bellum period were clocks
C. The American System did not immediately spread to other industries. The Singer Machine Company was slow to adopt these techniques
1. The Singer Co. is case which contradicts long held assumptions about the quick diffusion of manufacturing technology in the 19th
2. Singer was continually beset by production problems
3. What saved them was not their better production technology but their marketing capability.
a) They used trained women to sell the capabilities of their machine
b) Also Singer introduced its products with a high price tag
c) Customer support through dealerships and service centers
4. While increased marketing allowed their sales to rise the company continues to use the job-shop manufacturing approach (mechanics filing and fitting parts to assemble)
5. In 1880 production was updated to use various parts of the armory system--yet their machines still remained unchangeable
6. The Singer factory was a compromise between two worlds of production technology--American and European
D. McCormick Harvesting Machine Company (1841-1885)
1. Till 1880 the McCormick Works in Chicago depended on skilled blacksmiths, mechanics, and woodworkers to build its reapers
a) Cyrus McCormicks younger brother Leander was responsible for the production of the reaper using the traditional European system
b) Leander did little to incorporate the developments of the American System of Manufactures (did not use the fixtures, jigs, and gauges method)
c) Leander was a blacksmith and ran the factory like a large blacksmith shop
d) In 1880 the brothers had a fight. Cyrus wanted to produce more machines but Leander was very conservative. Leander was also very jealous of his brothers popularity
2. In 1880 Cyrus fired Leander and hired Lewis Wilkinson
a) Wilkinson was well trained at the American System from his days at the Colt Armory
b) Wilkinson stayed with the McCormick company for a year, during which time he taught Cyrus Jr. The techniques of the jig, fixture, and gauge system
c) In 1881 Cyrus Jr. Takes over production and put into practice the armory techniques
3. Thus, the myth that the use of interchangeable parts was widespread throughout the 19th is dispelled
E. About this time a new product (bicycle) that would serve as a bridge between the American System and mass production
1. Bicycle craze 1890-96 and collapsed in 1897
2. The bicycle was a stepping stone towards the auto
a) Early auto chassis consisted of bicycle tubing and tires
b) It introduced the benefits of personal transportation to America
c) Speed in transportation came to be seen as a virtue and thus hastened acceptance of the auto
3. Alexander Pope was the father of the American bike industry. Production improvements were also made by the Western Wheel Works
a) His bike the Pope Columbia was manufactured with traditional armory techniques and through aggressive advertising maintained a high price. Therefore the myth that interchangeable parts always meant lower costs is dispelled.
b) Pope used drop forging with solid steel. 80% had to be removed by cutting techniques
c) The Western Wheel Works used a different technique of stamping and bending flat steel into a tube. The ends would be fastened together with resistance welding
4. But a problem arose. The American System became so good at turning out masses of parts that a bottleneck began to occur at the assembly point
F. Ford and the first true mass production (1908-15)
1. The answer was the assembly line. The American System was fundamentally changed by Henry Ford as true mass production arose
a) Ford sought to manufacture for low prices and to use continuing price reductions to stimulate demand
b) This was in direct opposition to what the contemporary theory of monopoly was
c) As a result an economic revolution ensued due to advances in production technology and the assemble line
2. Fords production engineers had synthesized two different approaches to production that prevailed in the bicycle era
a) Ford adopted the techniques of armory practice (jig, fixture, gauge)
b) Adopted sheet steel punch and press work
3. These developments provided almost unlimited components and the assembly line eliminated assembly bottlenecks
4. Although similar to Taylor’s ideas--Taylor did not contribute to the Ford system
a) Taylor did not change the job itself--he improved efficiency. Ex. If a job was hand loading coal he did not mechanize, he invented a better shovel.
b) Ford mechanized and changed the very nature of the work
5. The assembly line was adopted quickly throughout industry due to the openness of his company to outside observers(within 18 months all subassemblies were using assembly lines)
a) However, it did bring serious labor problems. Turnover soared to 380% as the men were themselves mechanized.
b) To counteract this problem Ford instituted $5 a day pay which doubled the earnings of the workers and allowed them to buy the cars that they produced.
6. Another problem arose: For the first time supply outstripped demand
G. The answer came from Alfred Sloan and marketing strategies at GM of “flexible mass production”
1. Ford’s system: single-purpose machinery, assembly line, large volume, high wages, low prices
2. The new mass production needed to adapt to frequent consumer changes and individuality
a) Gm adopted the policy “a car for every purpose and every purse.” Annual models, buying on credit, luxury and budget cars.
b) This ushered in the era of “flexible mass production.” Americans were allowed to “climb the ladder of consumption”
3. Gm began discussing this idea in 1925 and by 1932-33 Ford had adopted it
a) In 1922 William Knudsen left Ford to join Chevrolet and attempt to build up their share of the market
b) Instead of copying the Ford system he built up a new system that could easily incorporate changes (general purpose machines not single purpose)
c) He also pursued decentralization: Ex. Motors and axles were manufactured in Flint while Toledo produced transmissions. Decentralization accommodated change.
d) Ford was not equipped for change. The transition between the T and the A caused the factory to shut down for 6 months
4. Sloanism triumphed over Fordism. It was important to “keep the customer dissatisfied”
5. Note: Hounshell dealt almost entirely with the transition at Ford from 1925-32 and virtually ignored the GM advances. At one point he stated that the GM records were closed and possibly nonexistent for this period. Nevertheless, GM should have been the culmination of his story.
6. Thus, the great paradox was that the mass production that was ushered in with Ford in 1913, died in 1926 as Ford attempted to adopt to GMs policy with the Model A.
H. This mass production ethos did not translate very well to other areas of production
1. Foster Gunnison developed prefabricated homes
2. The ASME attempted to mass produce furniture
3. The reason these failed is that for some reason Americans did not let their tastes succumb to standardization in these areas
4. Technology was not the limiting factor
5. There were cultural critics of mass production
a) Aldous Huxley Brave New World. This carried Fordism to the extreme of standardizing humans (different models)
b) Charlie Chaplin Modern Times. Trapped in the cogs of the machine.
c) Diego Rivera. A Mexican artists commissioned by Ford to paint frescoes at the Detroit Institute of Art. He painted workers who were dominated by anthropomorphic machines.
The Evolution of the book
The history of books starts with the development of writing , and various other inventions such as paper and printing , and continues through to the modern day business of book printing. The earliest history of books actually predates what would conventionally be called "books" today and begins with tablets, scrolls, and sheets of papyrus. Then hand-bound, expensive, and elaborate books known as codices appeared. These gave way to press-printed volumes and eventually lead to the mass printed tomes prevalent today. Contemporary books may even have no physical presence with the advent of the e-book.
This page documents the evolution of printing and publishing during the fifteenth century. It revolutionizes the production of books and pamphlets. Such presses can produce 3, pages per workday, compared to forty by typographic hand-printing and just a few pages by hand-copying. One of the main challenges of the industry is distributing all these works. This leads to the establishment of numerous book fairs. Even though woodcut is already used for printing on cloth for over a century, the first European woodcut printing on paper happens in the early 15th century. It is used for printing religious images and playing cards.
The printing press is a device that allows for the mass production of uniform printed matter, mainly text in the form of books, pamphlets and newspapers. Created in China and revolutionizing society there, the press was further developed in Europe in the 15th Century. No one knows when the first printing press was invented, or who invented it, but the oldest known printed text originated in China during the first millennium A. The Diamond Sutra was created with a method known as block printing, which utilized panels of hand-carved wood blocks in reverse. Some other texts have survived from Dunhuang as well, including a printed calendar from around A.
As books have now reached the 21st century with the creation of the increasingly popular e-book format, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the long and involved history of the humble book. From the clay tablets to the e-book format, the book has enjoyed a remarkable evolution, presented here is a snapshot of that history:. Current understanding suggests that the very first attempts to transcribe symbols onto moveable materials were an ancient group of people known as Sumarians who lived in southern Mesopotamia around BC.
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3500 BC - Symbols onto Tablets
From the time they first developed a written script, around BCE Before Common Era , Egyptians wrote on many different surfaces, including metal, leather, clay, stone, and bone. Most prominent, though, was the practice of using reed pens to write on papyrus scrolls. In many ways, papyrus was an ideal material for the Egyptians. It was made using the tall reeds that grew plentifully in the Nile Valley. Individual sheets of papyrus were glued or sewn together to make scrolls.
The history of the printing press is a fascinating one and is one that ultimately led to our modern world. The printing press is one of the most important inventions of all time. Its development would destroy the hegemonic control of information in Europe and change the course of history forever. The quick, cheap and easy distribution of information would ultimately lead to the Protestant Reformation more on this later , the Renaissance , the Scientific Enlightenment , and Industrial Revolution. A printing press is any form of technology that applies pressure between an inked surface and a print medium like paper or cloth. In this sense, it is a means of transferring ink from an inked surface and the medium.