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Regulating Railroad Innovationby Steven W. Usselman
Synopses & Reviews
Efforts to create and mould new technologies have been a central, recurrent feature of the American experience since at least the time of the Revolution. In Regulating Railroad Innovation, historian Steven Usselman brings this neglected aspect of American history to light. For nearly a century, railroad technology persistently posed novel challenges for Americans, prompting them to re-examine their most cherished institutions and beliefs. Business managers, inventors, consumers, and politicians all strained to contain the forces of innovation and to channel technical change toward the ends they desired. Moving through time from the first experimental lines through the polished but troubled railroad machines of the early twentieth century, Usselman examines diverse forums ranging from legislatures, and evolving corporate bureaucracies to laboratories, engineering societies, and world's fairs. In the process, his book situates technology within the dynamic history of an emergent industrial nation and elucidates its enduring place in American society.
Efforts to create and mold new technologies have been a central, recurrent feature of the American experience since at least the time of the Revolution. Many of the most tumultuous events in the nation's history have involved disputes over the appropriateness and desirability of particular technologies. For nearly a century, railroad technology persistently posed novel challenges for Americans, prompting them to reexamine their most cherished institutions and beliefs. Covering a now neglected aspect of American history, Usselman traces their myriad struggles in rich detail.
A study of America's efforts to regulate expanding railroad technology.
Table of Contents
Part I. Assembling the Machine, 1840-1876: 1. Engines of expansion and extraction: the politics of development; 2. Acquiring technology: insider innovation; 3. Patent problems: inventors and the market for technology; Part II. Running the Machine, 1876-1904: 4. Patent remedies: politics, jurisprudence, and procedure; 5. Mastering technology, channeling change; 6. Standardizing steel rails: engineered innovation; 7. Engineering enshrined; Part III. Friction in the Machine, 1904-1920: 8. Reluctant innovators: the annoying allure of automatic train control; 9. The limits of engineering: rate regulation and the course of innovation; Epilogue: the enduring challenge of innovation.
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