Keith Tantlinger, inventor of stacking shipping container, dies at 92

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September 8, 2011

gCaptain is saddened to learn that Keith Tantlinger, inventor of the modern-day shipping container, has died at age 92.  In commemoration, here is a link to a great article by the New York Times on the man that quietly shaped todays world as we know it.

Nearly six decades ago, Keith W. Tantlinger built a box — or, more accurately, the corners of a box. It was a seemingly small invention, but a vital one: it set in motion a chain of events that changed the way people buy and sell things, transformed the means by which nations do business and ultimately gave rise to the present-day global economy.

Mr. Tantlinger’s box, large, heavy and metal, is known as the shipping container. Though he did not invent it (such containers had been in use at least since the 19th century to haul heavy cargo like coal), he is widely credited with having created, in the 1950s, the first commercially viable modern one.

Thus, without ever intending to, Mr. Tantlinger, an engineer who died at 92 on Aug. 27 and who had long worked out of the limelight, helped bring about the vast web of international trade that is a fact of 21st-century life. More than any other innovation, the modern shipping container — by turns venerated and castigated — is now acknowledged to have been the spark that touched off globalization.  Keep Reading at

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