manufacturing history milestones

Landmarks In Time

The timeline traces the important events, ideas, people, and innovations that have helped shape manufacturing from the beginnings of time.

So many events, ideas, people, and inventions have helped shaped manufacturing management that it's difficult to know where to begin when selecting the most significant. Each industry, each country, each era is rich with happenings that spawned new manufacturing management strategies, though until recently the concept of management strategy went unnamed. But it seems our sense of this legacy narrows as the speed of change quickens, the bewildering array of new technologies proliferates, and the number of years past stretches toward 2000. Who in manufacturing management has time to look back?

So as IW looks forward to the future, to establish strategic priorities for the new millennium, we present a glimpse of the past. It's short, quick, to the point. These snapshots of history cut across all countries and industries, and reach back to the beginnings of civilization to highlight the events that changed the course of how manufacturing management is conducted. We hope it provides some needed perspective with which executives can make better decisions.

Not every country, industry, or era is equally represented, however. This is not an attempt to provide an encyclopedic list of every significant date in the world's march toward industrialization. In many cases, the events presented here merely serve to represent the beginning or the culmination of a number of events. In all cases, the events named have been culled from a multitude of published sources and interviews with business historians -- primarily James Hoopes of Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and James Evans of the University of Cincinnati -- rather than primary sources.

Early Civilization 5000 B.C. to 899 A.D.

-5000 to -4001 - Earliest cities in Mesopotamia form.

-3500 to -3001 - Potter's wheel used in Mesopotamia. Masons and Smiths become craftsmen.

-3000 to -2501 - Weaving loom known in Europe. Horses are used to draw vehicles.

-800 to -701 - First iron utensils produced.

251 to -300 - Pappus of Alexandria describes five machines in use: cogwheel, lever, pulley, screw, and wedge.

700 - Water wheels for mill drive in throughout Europe.

The Middle Ages 900 to 1400

1132 - Henry I of France grants charters of corporate towns, protecting commerce and industry.

1235 - Roger Bacon establishes the importance of using experimental methods.

1250 - Commercial and industrial boom in northern and central Italian cities.

1328 - The invention of the sawmill.

1354 - The mechanical clock installed at Strasbourg Cathedral.

The Renaissance, 1400 to 1760, and the First Industrial Revolution, 1760s to 1840s

The Renaissance 1400 - 1760

1455 - Gutenberg launches book production in the West.

1500s - World market for mass-produced goods grows at such a pace that traditional urban manufacturers cannot efficiently respond due to guild restrictions and high labor costs.

1592 - Windmills used in Holland to drive mechanical saws.

1599 - In Marseilles, France, first chamber of commerce is founded.

1600s - The process of specialization that would become a feature of western society is beginning to take effect. The disciplines of astronomy, chemistry, and geometry are becoming independent.

1600s - John Cary, a Bristol sugar merchant, presents very detailed research on wages and productivity, new manufactures, and technical change. He points out that technical changes succeed in reducing costs in a series of industries.

1602 - Dutch East India Company is founded with capital of 540,000 in Batavia; it is considered to be the first modern public company. In 1610 the company introduces the word "share" to describe ownership.

1630 - Beginning of public advertising, in Paris.

1630 - The word "capital" first appears in its modern sense. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "accumulated wealth reproductively employed."

1649 - Free enterprise in England receives state support.

1660 - Friedrich Staedtler founds a pencil factory in Nuremberg, Germany. Staedtler Mars GmbH & Co. is one of the oldest manufacturing companies in the world.

1689 - First modern trade fair is held in Leiden, Holland.

1701 - Henry Martyn writes Considerations on the East India Trade. He argues that the clearest route to manufacturing development and higher productivity lay in getting rid of trade strategies and technologies that use more rather than less labor.

1718 - John and Thomas Lombe build a water-powered mill on the River Derwent in Derby, England; it is regarded as the first factory designed to accommodate power-driven machines.

The First Industrial Revolution 1760s to 1840s

1789 - First steam-driven cotton factory in Manchester, England.

1793 - Samuel Slater imports the techniques and technology of English textile manufacturing to America, bringing with him the industrial revolution. Prior to this, manufactured products were the fruits of individual labor organized in cottage industries.

1795 - James Watt introduces all the basic industrial work practices at his new engine-making factory. The plant is designed to maximize the flow of production for standardized engines. Jobs are broken down into specified operations, with appropriate "specialization of labor."

1798-99 - Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin, becomes the first to successfully manufacture using the concept of interchangeable parts.

1813 - The Boston Manufacturing Co. integrates the processes of spinning thread and weaving cloth, marking the beginning of the "American System of Manufacturing."

1826 - Lowell, Massachusetts, considered the first U.S. city designed as an industrial community, is incorporated.

1830 - Joseph Whitworth develops a measuring instrument that is accurate to a millionth of an inch.

The Second Industrial Revolution 1840s to 1950

1854 - Daniel McCallum creates the first organizational chart, while J. Edgar Thomson develops the concept of line-and-staff management and the "divisional" organization. Both men and other leaders in the railroad industry help define the modern corporate structure.

1867 - Singer Corp. becomes the first multinational company in the world, with factories in Britain, France, and Argentina.

1878 - Edison Electric Light Co. establishes the first corporate-sponsored research and development facilities.

1884 - Frederick W. Taylor begins modern factory management in the machine shop at Midvale Steel.

1908 - Henry Ford commercializes the concept of interchangeable parts.

1909 - First commercial manufacture of Bakelite marks the beginning of the plastics age.

1911 - Taylor publishes his first book on scientific management, Principles of Scientific Management.

1913 - Ford pioneers moving-asssembly-line techniques in his car factory; begins operation of the world's first automobile assembly line.

1914 - Lillian Gilbreth publishes The Psychology of Management, arguing that the worker's creativity is as valuable to a company's success as a worker's physical labor.

1917 - Henry Louis Gantt invents the Gantt Chart, thus creating modern project management and allowing for speedy, responsive control of manufacturing processes that were previously hindered by out-of-date data from cost accountants.

1918 - Eight-hour day established by law in Germany.

1919 - Du Pont & Co. pioneers diversification by expanding from explosives to paint and chemicals.

1923 - Alfred P. Sloan becomes president of General Motors Corp., where he is credited with creating the multidivisional manufacturing corporation.

1924 - First International Congress of Management is held in Prague.

1931 - Procter & Gamble Co. formalizes one of the first brand-management marketing strategies and organizations.

1933 - Elton Mayo publishes The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization, which is considered to be the real beginning of the study of organizational behavior.

1934-36 - Industrial boom period in Japan focuses on military build-up.

1938 - Chester I. Barnard publishes The Functions of the Executive, asserting that executives must manage the entire organization, not just the people on the factory floor.

1939 - Peter F. Drucker "invents" management theory, with the publication of his first book on management, The End of Economic Man.

1943-45 - War Production Board sponsors the influential eight-day courses in quality control.

1945 - By this year, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico had all passed through the first phase of industrialization, had entered the world economy as exporters, and had all managed to combine highly protected domestic economies with large amounts of investments from Europe and the U.S.

1946 - Sloan becomes General Motors' chief executive. He is credited with creating the strategy of segmentation with his philosophy of producing a car for "every purse and every purpose."

1946 - The International Organ-ization for Standardization is established.

1948 - The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is established to set forth rules of conduct for international trade. The Third Industrial Revolution 1950 to the present

1950 - The first mass-produced computer for business use, UNIVAC 1 (universal automatic computer), is built by Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp.

1950 - Drucker becomes professor of management at New York University. He is the first to hold such a title and to teach management.

1950s - The Toyota Production System -- including lean production, just-in-time manufacturing, and quality circles -- are invented at Toyota Motor Corp.

1950s - Transnational companies begin to systematically explore the possibilities of splitting up their processes of production, thus creating "offshore sourcing" where the materials and components of the final product are assembled in several different countries.

1958 - American engineer Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments Inc. designs the first true integrated circuit.

1960s - Many U.S. companies begin to buy their materials and components in Asia.

1961 - General Motors installs the Unimate #001, the first industrial robot.

1964 - United Nations establishes the continuing Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD).

1964 - Sara Lee Corp. opens the first fully automated factory that uses computer-operated equipment.

1965 - Most large businesses routinely process financial information using second-generation computers.

1965 - Mexico introduces an export-oriented assembly-industry program to encourage foreign firms to build factories along the U.S.-Mexico border.

1965 - Lawrence Roberts and Thomas Merrill create the first wide-area computer network.

1968 - The UNCTAD creates the General System of Preferences (GSP) to facilitate the export of Third World manufactures to the First World.

1970 - Japan World Exhibition, Expo 70, opens in Osaka, signalling the country's emergence as a manufacturing leader.

1970 - CAD/CAM systems begin to appear.

Late '70s - The process of lean manufacturing is incorporated in U.S. manufacturing companies.

1975 - Personal and affordable computers begin to appear, launching another computer revolution that brings the machines into homes and schools, as well as into every aspect of business.

1977 - Peter Drucker, in The Wall Street Journal, popularizes the idea of "production sharing" which asserts that the interests of both the First and Third Worlds are best served if each concentrates on the parts of the production process for which it is most suited.

1980 - In the U.S., NBC broadcasts "If Japan Can. . .Why Can't We?" spurring the U.S. "Quality Revolution."

1981 - The U.S. Dept. of Defense adopts the use of bar-coding for all products sold to the U.S. military, spurring the practice of bar-coding in industry.

1990 - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. establishes "Retail Link," providing manufacturers direct access, via a secure Internet Web site, to information in the retail giant's data warehouse, thus introducing value-chain management strategy.

1993 - James Champy and Michael Hammer publish Reengineering the Corporation, advocating the creation of a horizontal, rather than hierachical organization of companies.

1993 - The original version of the user-friendly Web browser, Mosaic, is developed, making possible commercial use of the Internet.

1994 - The end of the Uruguay Round, which brought about the biggest reform of the world's trading system since GATT, results in the creation of the World Trade Organization.

1995 - RealAudio debuts, permitting sound, and, later, pictures, to be sent in real time over the Internet.

1996 - Cisco Systems Inc. pioneers business-to-business selling on the Internet. Dell Computer Corp. pioneers business-to-consumer selling on the Internet.

1998 - Assembly begins of the International Space Station.

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