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Scottish roots and trade

Starting with one $120 second-hand truck in 1934, an American truck driver by the name of Malcolm McLean built the second-largest trucking company in the US. One day in 1937, while sitting on a dock watching the labour-intensive job of unloading a ship’s freight, he had a different idea, one that would save huge amounts of time and money – loading a truck's whole trailer on board and off at once. The idea of container shipping would take McLean another twenty years and quite a bit of money to develop, but by the end of the 20th century mechanized container shipping had revolutionised the way that the world trades. Because shipping costs were drastically reduced, the cost of goods fell dramatically, too.

One reason for this was McLean’s emphasis on standardization, which he facilitated by making his patents freely available. According to Wikipedia, “He died in relative obscurity, although he was one of the greatest contributors to the growth of the world economy in the 20th century.” Before he died McLean changed the spelling of his first name from Malcolm to Malcom to bring it into line with his Scottish roots.


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