Thomas J Misa, A Nation of Steel, the Making of Modern America, 1865-1925 (1995)
Thesis: "The relationships between producers and consumers are the single most important determinant of the dynamics of technology and social change." (xix) "The view of technology as applied science has served as a powerful myth for legitimating science policy..., but this view is worse than useless for comprehending the dynamics of technical and social change." (xv)
Chapter 1. "The Dominance of rails 1865-1885"
Three RR building campaigns, 1872, 1882, 1887
Henry Bessemer process: air could decarburize pig iron, blew it in from the bottom of a tilting converter.
Alexander L. Holley: designed Bessemer steel rail mills
From 1877-1915 (except depression decade of 1890s) price of steel rails determined by Bessemer Association & successors
Users and producers of rails could be owned by same corporation, ie Pennsylvania RR p 21
Continuous Bessemer process p26
How to determine quality? Chemistry. Distinguish iron from steel? p30
Carbon content: Steel .2-1% p33 Fusion p32, p38
Steel making in US created for a single product: making steel rails. p 42-43.
RR officials promoted funded and founded early Bessemer steel works
Train steel executives in modern management
Influenced scientific knowledge
Shaped pattern and pace of national development p43.
Chapter 2. "The Structure of Cities, 1880-1900"
New steel for urban structures broke the tyranny of the Bessemer steel rail and was a mammoth technical and scientific effort involving new linkages between producers and consumers of steel. p 50
Bessemer mills could not make structural steel for four reasons; p 76.
After rail market stagnated in late 1880s, the mass production of steel in the US depended on steel for urban structures. p 83
fireproof p86, rapid construction p87
Chapter 3. "The Politics of Armor, 1885-1915"
Harvey-Krupp cartel P129
Hayward Augustus Harvey, hardened armor p 120
London financing p122
Krupp patent p123
Never before had so many government officials interacted so intimately with so many managers and executives in private industry. p 129
Huge profits from armor permitted Carnegie to purchase iron ore lands and transportation that made it self sufficient in this vital raw material p 130
Chapter 4. "The merger of Steel, 1990-1910"
Changes in steel industry destabilized the rail and steel system that J. P. Morgan had just salvaged from competitive disarray and economic depression, triggering the events behind the formation in 1901 of the US Steel Corporation p 130
Morgan= worked to forestall destructive competition among the RRs and steel companies
Carnegie= the master of destructive competition p167
US steel was designed not to foster technological change, but to promote stability in the industrial system. p 170.
Innovation, as in high-speed steel for factories and alloy, sheet, and electric steel for automobiles came from beyond U.S. Steel. p171
Chapter 5. "The reform of Factories, 1895-1915"
Frederick W. Taylor: metal cutting research p174
High speed steel and the interplay between its science-inspired invention and its craft-oriented production. p175
One perfected the new steels cut at impressive and unprecedented rates p193
By 1902 a revolution in machine design was under way p200
Not only individual machines, but also the design of the factory itself p201
High-speed steel affected the traditional balance of power and authority in the shop p202
These developments in machine tools, factory design and metallurgy culminated in the rational factory movement in the automobile industry 209
in responding to a new and insistent user (the automobile makers) the U.S. steel was prodded into its fully mature form p209.
Chapter 6. "The Imperative of Automobiles, 1905-1925"
Five key interactions between the producers of steel and the automobile industry p213.
The establishment of standards for steel p213, 215
the use of alloy steel p213, 223, 229, 232
Proper heat treatment p213, 234
Continuous production of steel sheets p214, 241
electric steel making p214. 247
Chapter 7. "The Dynamics of Change"
After 1925 what is remarkable is how little the patterns of producing and using steel changed. p253
The real price of stability as outlined in previous chapters was the stifling of innovation p255
Tech innovation in the steel industry comes from companies other of the U.S. Steel p255
R&D and Tech change
electrical properties of steel containing silicon minimizes heat p255
stainless steel p257
Author's investigation into the decline of US Steel p261
Economics and technical change p 262 Technological development over time tend to be closely related to existing activities, irreversible and path dependent p265
Labor and technical change p266 Ultimately the industry's dismal labor policies represented a social choice to retain profits rather than distribute them as wages p270.
A focus on user-producer interactions complements and extends the sector-based analysis fo this study p274
Centralized interactions p 276 RRs before 1900, armor before 1895
Multi-centered interactions p277 RRS after 1900, armor after 1895
decentralized interactions p277 structures after1880, factories after 1890
direct consumer interactions p 277automobiles after 1910, alloys after 1920
Conclusion: p278 the resulting technology torpidity that doomed the industry was not primarily a matter of industrial concentration, outrageous behavior on the part of white and blue collar employees, or even dysfunctional relations among management, labor and government. What went wrong was the industry's relations with its consumers. p 278
need for public policy mechanisms to deal w/ perils and promise of technology. p 282