Drive by any port in the country, and there they are: shipping containers. You'll find stacks and stacks of storage containers from Long Island, NY, to Long Beach, CA. You'll find them loaded up on ships on the coast and trains and trucks in the Midwest. Although they seem ubiquitous to us now, it hasn't always been this way. It's only recently in human history that mankind has adopted a common form of shipping container the world over, leading to an explosion in the global economy. How did this happen? Here's a brief history of the development of the modern storage container.

Tetris-Style Loading

Prior to 1956, most shipping involved moving products that came in an endless variety of shapes and sizes. This required men to handle each individual load to fit them together so that each ship could carry as much stuff as possible. This was an inefficient use of valuable cargo space, and it took a lot of time and labor. In 1937, a trucker named Malcom McLean came up with the idea of a standardized intermodal container that has since become the standard of modern shipping. His purchase of a steamship and a railroad terminal company allowed him to experiment with container design and resulted in the first examples of infrastructure designed to facilitate shipping containers.



The late 1950s saw the development of the first ships designed to accommodate containers both above and below decks. In 1956, McLean invented the system of "fitting", where containers are designed to be lifted and fixed onto ships and vehicles, and then fixed to each other. This makes the best use of available space, and enables the process to be automated, reducing the cost of loading from $5.86 per ton in 1956 to $0.16 per ton today. The first gantry crane was developed by Paceco in 1959, greatly reducing loading times and cost, and increasing security. By 1970, international standards for shipping containers begin to be set.


As standardized shipping expands, McLean and the Southern Pacific Railroad team up to develop the first double-stack train car, sending the shipping container into Middle America. By 1979, practically all trade between the continents had been containerized with 90% of all ports around the world now using containers. By the 1990s, most of the largest ports were in Asia, contributing to China having a peak GDP growth in the middle of the decade of 13%.


By 2013, 700 million containers were shipped across ocean lanes every year, accounting for 90% of all global trade. Since their development, container technology has continued to improve as materials become lighter and more versatile.

The containers that exist today are the result of 60 years of trial and error. If you're looking for a storage containers for sale in Long Island, NY, don't hesitate to contact the experts at Cassone Leasing Inc. Give them a call today!