The ‘This Week in Business History’ Series on Supply Chain Now shares some of the most relevant business and global supply chain events from years past. It will shine a light on some of the most significant leaders, companies, innovations, and even lessons learned from our collective business history.


In this episode of ‘This Week in Business History,’ Supply Chain Now Host Scott Luton relates true stories marking notable anniversary dates this week, including:

  • June 15, 1844: Charles Goodyear receives a patent (#3633) for vulcanization, the process for hardening/strengthening rubber to help it withstand extreme temperatures and temperature changes
  • June 16, 1911: The company that would eventually become I.B.M. was formed in Endicott, NY to help solve the data collection challenges associated with the U.S. Census.
  • The patent for Morse Code, the formation of the Ford Motor Company, and the US Senate’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Intro – Amanda Luton (00:06):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.

Scott Luton (00:32):

Hey, good morning, Scott Luton here with you own supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show. Hey, on today’s show, we’re kicking off a new series this week in business history on this program, we’re going to be taking a look at a particular week and then sharing some of the most relevant events from years past, of course, mostly business focused with a little dab of global supply chain. And occasionally we might just throw in a good story outside of our primary realm. So join me, will you on this look back in history to identify some of the most significant leaders, companies innovations, and perhaps lessons learned in our collective business history. Now this week in business history for the week of June 14th. Hey, in story one on June 15th, 1844, Charles Goodyear officially received the patent for vulcanization. So before we dive into mr. Goodyear story, let’s better understand vulcanization rubber in its natural form became very popular in the early 19th century.

Scott Luton (01:42):

However, as many rubber plants were built to meet demand. Some of the natural rubbers downfalls became wildly evident in the hot summers rubber melted into a mess. And then the cold new England winters in particular rubber became hard as a granite rock consumers ran uproar demand fell off a cliff rubber plants, especially in the United States Northeast were closing left. And right, so you enter vulcanization where a variety of chemicals, especially sulfur is added a rubber and heated. This process shrinks rubber to a degree while strengthening it and making the rubber harder vulcanization essentially makes rubber much more, uh, much more resistant to the temperature extremes and other harsh conditions. Interestingly enough, to note the word vulcanization come from Vulcan, the Roman God of fire and forge. In fact, my dear third grade teacher from Aiken elementary, ms. Marks I’m sure is smiling from heaven with that reference.

Scott Luton (02:52):

Okay, so let’s get back to mr. Charles Goodyear. Charles Goodyear was born in 1800 in new Haven, Connecticut after a number of business endeavors and about what dyspepsia Goodyear and his family were struggling. And somewhere in the early 1830s, he became fascinated with one thing, gum elastic, AKA natural rubber. So keep in mind, the first use of natural rubber has been traced back to the indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica. Let me paint that on a map for you. So think central Mexico moving Southeast through Belize Guatemala, eventually to Northern Costa Rica back to Charles Goodyear. So he became infatuated with rubber in particular, he seemed to latch on to one particular application. Life preservers Goodyear was absolutely convinced that rubber life preservers would cut down on the thousands of people that drowned each year worldwide, straight, uh, scraping by with nothing but whatever he could get from his investors working on a variety of products beyond life preservers, Goodyear worked on mail bags for the U S government, which were ultimately proven to be faulty due to how the rubber fat rubber fabric fell apart at hot temperatures, Toms were tough.

Scott Luton (04:22):

Goodyear’s family suffered dearly. In fact, Charles Goodyear was put in debtor’s prison due to a ton of unsecured borrowing, and the price was steep as it’s been reported that six of Goodyear’s 12 children died before reaching adulthood, but Goodyear persevered, he was bound and determined to succeed. The countless experiments didn’t stop. And there were some breakthroughs. In fact, Goodyear experience enough success to build a factory or to where they produced a variety of goods, including there’s life preservers. And wouldn’t, you know, just as the Goodyear family was settling in somewhat to a degree of success and a new home disaster struck this time in the form of a financial crisis that hit the entire United States deemed the panic of 1837. It deepened into a depression that shook the entire country. Goodyear lost everything, but as most as most passionate entrepreneurs do, he sold her home in 1839.

Scott Luton (05:31):

Serendipity arrived on the scene and in an accident in the lab, Goodyear stumbled across the discovery that when sulfur is added to rubber and hits a hot stove, it improves the product, the Genesis of vulcanization, which Goodyear would coin he and his colleague, Nathaniel Hayward would go on to receive a patent for this initial discovery, but it wasn’t quite perfected. Goodyear would work to perfect. The process of vulcanization at a small factory that he and a variety of partners ran in Springfield, Massachusetts. And on June 15th, 1844, Charles Goodyear would receive patent number three, six, three, three from the United States at the top of the patent. It reads improvement in India, rubber fabrics. There would be patents for vulcanization and other countries. Court cases involving infringement. Certainly never a dull moment in Charles Goodyear’s journey. Many asked him about how many others benefited from all his tireless work to which Goodyear would write quote, the advantages of a career in life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents as is too often done.

Scott Luton (06:51):

Man has just calls for regret when he sows and no one reaps in quote, this is a very striking quote from Charles Goodyear. When you consider that the Goodyear tire and rubber company, which had revenues in excess of $14 billion in 2019, and who’s famous blip can be found any big event across the world. Well, that company was actually founded almost 40 years after Charles Goodyear’s death by a completely unrelated individual. Mr. Frank Seiberling alright from tires, from tires, the technology today on this week in business history, story two on June 16th, 1911, a company that would eventually become known as IBM is formed in Endicott, New York international business machine known around the world as IBM and big blue is a conic American company. Although it’s been claimed that over 70% of the company’s workforce are based outside of the United States, but did you know that perhaps the company never would have been formed if it hadn’t taken the us census team eight years to process census results back near the end of the 19th century.

Scott Luton (08:16):

That’s right. Herman Hollerith was a census worker that was determined to find the better way to cope with the endless data that was produced and had to be accounted for. As part of the census approach, Hollerith would ultimately invent the punched card tabulate machine, which was patented in 1844. The machine was used in the 1890 census, which despite all the population gains and the sheer increase in data from the 1880 census, the tablet and machine helped cut down process time from eight years to six years. He’d also form mr. Hollerith would form the tabulate and machine company in 1896, despite the company’s potential things weren’t quite cracking for Herman and the team. Thus in 1911, four corporations were amalgamated to form a new company, the computing tabulating recording company, which will be referred to as CTR. This huge business deals orchestrated by Charles Randlett from, uh, Charles lit Flint, the pride of Thomaston Maine.

Scott Luton (09:28):

Now Flint was uniquely talented in the art of the deal. In fact, he earned the nickname father of trusts prior to shepherding the formation of CTR in 1911, Flint had bundled several companies together to form us rubber, which still exists today. You may know us rubber as Uniroyal, a subsidiary of the French tire maker, Michelin at least here in North America and parts of South America. But back at the computing tabulating recording company, Charles Flint was struggling to lead CTR and its various components. Keep in mind though, these components had tons of potential. They included the first time clock, the first time card recorder, the newly invented computing scale. And of course the before mentioned punched card data processing equipment. So what is an investor to do? Bring in the adult supervision perhaps as my dear friend, Greg white likes to say that’s right. White Flint hired Thomas J. Watson who had a wide variety of experience.

Scott Luton (10:37):

He had sold organs and pianos Watson had sold sewing machines. He taught school for exactly. One day must not have been for him. Thomas J. Watson had even opened a butcher shop where he had gotten to really know one of the tools of his trade, the cash drawer. Yes, just, just prior to being hired by CTR Watson had a ton of success with national cash register. You might know it better. As NCR Watson had gotten familiar with his cash register where he used to ring up his butcher shop customers so much so where he chose to start selling the devices himself. And he did well really well, maybe too well. In 1912, NCR was chain was charged with the Sherman antitrust act Watson and 26 other NCR employees were convicted and sentenced to one year in jail. However, these convictions were overturned in 1915, thus while the case was being appealed, Watson was available to start with the computing tabulating recording company directly Charles Flint hired Thomas J. Watson on May 1st, 2014 as general manager at CTR in 1914, the company would earn revenues of about $9 million.

Scott Luton (12:02):

They had 1,346 employees and 700 shareholders in 1956. The year Thomas J. Watson stepped down as CEO, IBM would have $892 million in revenue and over 72,000 employees, needless to say, Watson made a legendary impact on CTR. In fact, the vast growth of the business by the 1920s necessitated a name change gone was computing tabulating recording company. And then in its place, the legendary international business machines dub around the world as IBM, of course, but the growth didn’t go without its controversy still to this day. Thomas J Watson’s dealings with Nazi Germany have been criticized and investigated in 2001 author Edwin black published a book that made many waves globally. It was entitled quote IBM and the Holocaust, the strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s most powerful corporation in quote, to be fair. Now during world war II, IBM doubled down on it, support for the U S government and the allied war effort.

Scott Luton (13:16):

For example, a BMS radio type product was a significant communications contribution to the U S war effort and the product received its first most extensive use with the allied military forces in world war II, IBM steady Roz and innovative contributions to global business continued throughout the second half of the 20 20th century. Think of artificial intelligence, modern typewriters, mainframe computers, magnetic magnetic strip, um, magnetic Stripe cards. Yup. You guessed it. The one we’ve been purchasing things with for years and IBM or did that Fortran the scientific programming language, personal computers, and so much more headquarter today in our MK New York, a BM operates almost 200 countries worldwide. Arvin Krishna was appointed CEO in January, 2020. Kristen was a major leader in the IBM acquisition of innovative technology from red hat in 2018, perhaps one of the greatest contributions to business and global supply chain is all the former IBM MERS that I’ve left the company and going on to do even bigger things such as, uh, Apple CEO, Tim cook, Gardner founder, Gideon Gardner Patricia Roberts Harris, the first African American woman to serve in the U S cabinet and Canadian astronaut.

Scott Luton (14:48):

And governor general, Julie Piatt alright, we’re going to wrap up today’s episode with a few other important events from years past, in this week in business history on June 20th, 1840 Samuel F B Morse, the pride of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and an incredibly talented artist by the way, received the patent for Morse code on June 16th, 1903 Ford motor co corporation is founded in Detroit, Michigan. This was Ford’s second car company. His first was the Henry Ford company founded in 1901 Ford left that company along with his name in 1902, the Henry Ford company, as it were, would go on to be known as the Cadillac motor company, which is still alive and well. And interestingly enough, part of general motors, the primary Ford competitor on June 15th, 1919, the first nonstop transatlantic flight was made by John Alcock and Arthur Brown. The duo was successful about 10 years prior to Charles Lindbergh’s famous solo feat on June 18th, 1923 long before Uber or Lyft, the first checker taxi cab rolled off the assembly line in Kalamazoo, Michigan at its peak, the company would make 5,000 taxi cabs a year and as times changed.

Scott Luton (16:21):

So did checker cab manufacturing companies fortunes, unfortunately it closed in 2009, shortly after declaring bankruptcy on June 18th, 1928, Amelia Earhart. The pride of Atchison Kansas became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic ocean as a passenger, of course she’d later famously pilot, a nonstop solo transatlantic flight in 1932, five years later, while attempting to make a flight around the world, the famous pioneer and challenger of the status quo would disappear along with her Lockheed model tin E Electra and navigator Fred Noonan on June 16th, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova would become the first woman in space as part of the Vos dock six mission on June 20th, 1963 on the heels of the Cuban missile crisis. A direct communications link was installed between Washington DC and Moscow. It was not a red telephone as popular culture may imply, but initially it was a teletype mission linking specifically the Kremlin with the Pentagon, not the white house meant to eliminate the diplomatic delays and to avert any misinterpretations that could lead to a nuclear exchange between the U S and the Soviet union.

Scott Luton (17:55):

Finally, and most importantly, on June 19th, 1964, the U S Senate finally passed the civil rights act of 1964. The U S house had approved this landmark legislation back in February, several months prior of 1964, it got much trick a trickier by the way, in the Senate, ultimately it had to overcome a robust filibuster, a filibuster, a political maneuver designed to obstruct action being taken by essentially continued talking and grandstanding. Nevertheless, the bill passed U S Senate and was signed into law on July 2nd, 1964 by president Lyndon Baines Johnson. So a pretty special week in business. And in general, if you ask me at least I hope you’ve enjoyed this first edition of this week in business history here on supply chain. Now, you know, be sure to check out our wide variety of industry thought leadership webinars, live streams, podcasts, you name it other special events at supply chain. Now Fondas and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from on behalf of the entire team here at supply chain. Now this is Scott Luton wishing all of our listeners, nothing but the best. Hey, do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time on supply chain. Now

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Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about Supply Chain Now here:


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