Malcolm McLean

The Moment

26 April 1956 – Malcolm McLean’s converted World War II tanker, the Ideal X, makes its maiden voyage from Port Newark to Houston in the USA.

The Unseen Path

For thousands of years, humans have shipped goods across the seas and oceans, and for much of that time the process has been cumbersome and labor intensive. Ships would spend days and weeks in port while dockworkers loaded or unloaded cargo. Accidents and injuries were commonplace. Loss, theft and dockworker strikes threatened owners’ profits.

The man typically credited with changing it all was Malcolm McLean, whose ships carried cargo-laden truck trailers between Northern and Southern ports in the United States. But it was mechanical engineer Keith Tantlinger who turned McLean’s vision into a reality.

Among his most ingenious inventions was the twist lock, which made it possible to stack shipping containers many layers high. He designed a set of steel fittings, which were welded to each corner of a container. Each fitting contained a hole into which the twist-lock could be dropped. A second container could then be stacked atop the first, a handle turned, and the two locked together. The process could be repeated, building a tall stack. Cranes could latch directly onto these corner fittings, neatly lifting containers on and off ships. The twist-lock could also be used to secure a container to a truck chassis or a railroad car.

That single product revolutionized shipping. Today, nearly 90 percent of what we consume is transported by ship. In 2011, the 360 commercial ports in the US took in international goods worth $1.73 trillion — 80 times the value of all U.S. trade in 1960. We have Keith Tantlinger to thank for much of that.

Our Heroes

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen

1911 – Antarctica

Roald Amundsen successfully reaches the geographic South Pole.
Cameron

Cameron

1984 – The Terminator

The movie grosses $38 million and launches the career of its 29 year-old director.
Michael Collins

Michael Collins

1969 – Our Moon

Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin are the first humans to set foot on the moon.
Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau

1943 – The French Riviera

Jacques Cousteau wades into the Mediterranean, wearing flippers and the world’s first scuba device.
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

1953 – London

Rosalind Franklin invents the X-ray techniques that lead to the discover of the double helix model of DNA.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

1944 – Harvard

Computer pioneer Grace Hopper invents the first compiler for a computer programming language.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

1942 – Hollywood

Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr develops the frequency hopping communications technology behind GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth

Matt Parker

Matt Parker

2012 – London Olympics

Matt Parker utilizes strategic training methods and disciplines which results in 8 gold medals.
Malcolm McLean

Malcolm McLean

1956 – Houston

Malcolm McLean’s Ideal X tanker makes its maiden voyage.
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

1893 – World Fair, Chicago

Tesla wows the crowd with his Tesla Coil, including wireless lighting and his induction motor.
Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas

1944 – Baltimore

Vivien Thomas develops the first surgical procedure used to treat blue baby syndrome.

Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers

1903 – North Carolina

The iconic flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 as the first manned aircraft at Kitty Hawk.