The History of the Shipping Container

For everyone involved in container shipping – and for anyone interested in the origins of the shipping container 

How it developed from its early designs and manufacturing…to today’s mass production


The History of the Shipping Container

The shipping container affects everyone’s lives around the world – the global economy depends on the safe and on-time delivery of cargoes of every type on container ships.

But container shipping is a relatively recent phenomenon – starting slowly in the 1950s and only expanding globally in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The success of the container depended on standardisation – both of the container itself, and the handling and transport systems which were required to move it. It also required containers to be designed, built and tested to ensure that they survive the tough conditions at sea and on land.

“The History of the Shipping Container” tells the story of how the container was first conceived - and then designed and manufactured. It is written by Ulrich Cramer - who was there in the very early days, as a container designer and manufacturer, and involved in the development of many innovations, as well as the establishment of container factories in Europe. He was also the main consultant for the development and construction of China’s first container factory in the early 80s.

Covering the period from the 1950’s to the early 1980’s, this book is a personal history of the container, including:

  • Intermodal systems – before the first container ship
  • The first container shipping lines
  • Standardising the container design
  • Container materials and technology
  • How container manufacturing started in the US, and then moved to Europe – and then Asia
  • The development of the swap-body as a road-rail mode
  • Container handling equipment – in the early days

Illustrated with over 200 photos, the 150-page book tells a fascinating story – and should be of interest to anyone who has been involved in the container business.



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