skip to content
40ft high cube storage container for sale

Who Invented Shipping Containers?

Introduction to the inventor of shipping containers

If you are wondering, “Who invented shipping containers?” you are not alone.

There are several theories on this topic, including those of Malcolm Purcell McLean, Keith Tantlinger, and Malcolm Gladwell. Let’s take a look at each of these individuals to see which one deserves the credit.

Besides McLean, these men all conceived innovative ideas for shipping containers. Their efforts paved the way for the creation of shipping containers.

Malcolm Purcell McLean

The invention of shipping containers was a game-changer in the world of trade. Before the advent of containers, trade relied on vast dock labor forces.

By 1996, 90 percent of world trade was shipped in containers on specially designed ships. The invention made shipping containers cheaper and allowed shippers to pass on the cost savings to customers.

In addition, containerization made ship turnaround time faster. So, what exactly was the purpose of shipping containers?

McLean was born in Maxton, North Carolina, on November 14, 1913. He later changed his name to “Malcolm Purcell,” a more traditional Scottish spelling.

Today, shipping containers are an essential component of global trade, and he has been called the father of containerization.

Malcolm Purcell McLean’s invention has been called a revolution in the world economy. His invention of shipping containers is considered a technical masterpiece.

The humble container was invented in 1956 by a man named Malcolm Purcell McLean. He was born in southeastern North Carolina and started a small trucking company during the great depression to transport farmers’ supplies.

He also invented a standard shipping container and standardized the loading and unloading methods for these containers. These improvements made it possible to build mega-ships with more than 20,000 TEU.

The shipping containers McLean created were patented and quickly became the norm. These containers were easier to store and transport than conventional cargo, saving the company money and making it harder for dock workers to steal them.

Eventually, containers became the primary method of transportation for 90 percent of world trade. Malcolm Purcell McLean eventually sold his company for $160 million and retired to his pig farm. He died in 2001.

The first container ship was the Ideal X. It carried three times the number of cargo as the Ideal X. The second was the Gateway City, which had a capacity of 19,224 20ft equivalent units.

In 1960, Malcolm McLean changed his company’s name to Sea-Land Service. His Elizabethport was the first container ship to pass through the Panama Canal.

The MSC Oscar and Gateway City both broke records with capacity.

Keith Tantlinger

When you think of the shipping containers you use today, you might not immediately think of the inventor Keith Tantlinger. However, this man was responsible for the development of this popular transport method.

His invention, called the corner casting, allowed the containers to be easily loaded and unloaded. The containers can also be quickly fitted on trains and trucks.

The invention of the corner casting has become a significant part of the global supply chain.

In the early 1950s, Keith Tantlinger and his team invented closed cargo containers that could be stacked one on top of another. This made large-scale cargo transportation possible.

They were made of steel, measuring forty feet long and eight to nine feet high. These containers were the forerunners of shipping cargo containers today.

Today, there are millions of shipping containers cruising the world. And a single container can carry up to twenty tons of goods.

Since then, shipping containers have become universal. While once goods were shipped in barrels and crates, today, books, food, and electronics can be shipped from one country to another at low costs.

The shipping containers that Keith Tantlinger invented are the cornerstones of globalization. He died on Aug. 27 at the age of 92. In his lifetime, Keith Tantlinger changed the world economy by making shipping containers safe and convenient.

Another major innovation that Tantlinger made was the container. He convinced McLean to release his patents on the design of the container, allowing it to be widely used. He also invented the crane spreader and related fittings.

The development of these devices led to the standardization of containerization worldwide. If you are planning to buy a container, make sure you read up on Keith Tantlinger’s background and work history.

While the shipping container design dates back to the 19th century, it was not until the 1950s that Tantlinger created the first commercially viable shipping containers.

The corner mechanism he developed allowed the containers to be stacked high and transferred from one ship to another.

Tantlinger persuaded McLean to share his patents with him in return for a few years of development time. So what is his legacy?

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s “How I Invented the Internet” is a masterful account of how the world became a global economy. He meticulously researches the story and masterfully tells it.

Using a detached yet balanced tone, Gladwell teases out the DNA of globalization and its impact on business. The story is both timely and relevant. It’s a must-read for anyone who has ever thought about the world around us.

Author Malcolm Gladwell has been hailed as a leading thinker of 21st-century society. His books, such as “Outliers“, have prompted entire generations of business leaders to think differently.

He writes a compelling and thought-provoking narrative, revealing an individual’s journey from poverty to business success. His personal background has inspired countless others to use their passion and knowledge to make a change in the world.

McLean’s invention of the shipping container changed the world. In fact, the first container shipping company was founded by a truck driver from North Carolina. The company’s success made it possible to mass distribute goods throughout the world.

With the invention of containers, the fortunes of port cities fluctuated, railroads clawed their way back to prominence, and supply chains were globally integrated. And now, a new age of manufacturing has begun.

McLean’s original idea to use shipping containers was first tried 30 years ago. At the time, the boxes were cumbersome and heavy to lift and unload. Longshoremen hated the idea.

McLean mortgaged himself to the hilt, but his company was successful, and he had a business to sell. The idea of using containers in shipping wasn’t successful, however.

Until the advent of shipping containers, shipping was a very capital-intensive business.

Malcolm McLean

In 1956, Malcolm McLean secured a $22 million bank loan to convert two World War II tanker ships into a container port.

The SS Ideal-X sailed from New Jersey to Houston, Texas with 58 shipping containers. His shipping company was able to offer 25 percent cheaper transport than its competitors, and his containers could be locked so that no one could steal the cargo.

These innovations helped raise the standard of living for hundreds of millions of people. Containers are a big help to a lot of people in Pennsylvania, North and South Dakota, and Louisianna.

Originally, the containers were referred to as Trailer Vans, but their use as containers has evolved. The first container was 35 feet long, and they were used on the SS Ideal X, which carried 15,000 tons of petroleum.

During the war, the U.S. military began palletizing metal containers. In the United States, the Department of Defense adopted specifications for a standardized steel Intermodal container, a type of shipping container that could transport more than one hundred and fifty tons of cargo.

After learning about the problems of break-bulk shipping, McLean designed an improved method. He converted two WWII oil tankers into container ships.

The SS Ideal X was the first container ship, carrying 58 shipping containers from New Jersey to Texas. He also improved the design to allow loading and unloading containers quickly.

In the end, he invented shipping containers that would revolutionize the shipping industry. This method was a major improvement over break-bulk methods.

In order to ship the granite, seven bundles of stone are packed into standardized shipping containers. Traditional shipping containers are 20x8x8 feet and were designed for low-density, high-value cargo.

However, granite is not low-density or high-value, so the traditional shipping container would not be suitable for stone because it would have a high density.

Sea-Land Industries was another company that imitated McLean’s concept. They leased their patents to the International Organization for Standardization.

Their fleet included 27,000 trailer-type containers and 36 trailer-type vessels. Their fleet consisted of thirty-six ships that called 30 ports worldwide.

By 1961, they had a record of profitability and continued to add routes. This success prompted others to imitate the company.

Why use TheShip to get shipping container quotes?
Best Prices
Quick Turnaround
Easy Process

Compare & Save

View deals on shipping containers from suppliers in your area now

Takes less than 30 seconds