Daily Archives: September 8, 2011

John Gapper

Having spent the past couple of weeks in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, I found the obituaries for Keith Tantlinger, the engineering brain behind the shipping container, poignant.

I took a stroll along the Pearl River in Guangzhou on Wednesday, nearby the ports from which vast amounts of electronics and textiles are shipped via containers to the rest of the world. It was a reminder of how much Mr Tantlinger’s little-known invention in the mid-1950s revolutionised the transport industry.

As recorded in Marc Levinson’s book The Box, Mr Tantlinger was asked by his boss, the maverick entrepreneur Malcolm McLean, to make practical the idea of storing goods in box containers rather than in break-bulk ships which had to be loaded and unloaded at each port. Read more

Li Feifei, a 19-year-old migrant factory worker from China’s Hubei province, dreams of becoming a clothes designer.

Ms Li, to whom I spoke this week at Fuji Xerox’s plant in the Longhua district of Shenzhen, got the idea of attending a fashion college and changing jobs from watching television. “When I saw beautiful girls in dramas, I thought of them wearing clothes I made and designed,” she says.