Everything I Know: Section 10
I went into many angles of the developing of the omni-medium transport and experiences that I had, I did speak to you about the problem of the men who worked for me not daring to finish the car because it meant they were all going go off their family wouldn’t eat again the Depression was so vivid in their feelings. And I kept on really through the developing doing car #3, and in doing Car #3, that was the one really to wipe out all of the stigma. My mother died and she left me some inheritance, and I had to spend all of that on car #3. And I came pretty close to the end of my funds, and in order to be able to carry on I was selling shares in General Electric or whatever it might be Standard Oil. And there were others, my brothers and sisters and they were back which was the co-administrator of the will, and they, when I needed some money they couldn’t do it right away, and I learned a great deal, incidentally, about banks really delaying the sales, where the banks get together, and they all know when they’re selling some kind of a stock, so there really was quite a lot of manipulation involved here. They had orders from numbers of Trusts quite different from just the order of an individual in the stock brokerage house where he asks somebody to buy something, and it happens just like that. But there are enormous numbers of banks handling enormous numbers of trust funds, so they can really get together, and it means quite a lot to suddenly being selling General Electric in a big way, or selling Standard Oil or whatever it might be.
At any rate, they were not very prompt when I needed money it would take me quite a long time before that money would arrive, and the Depression was so bad, and I owed money to two or three people in Bridgeport lumber firm and others, and the sheriff came around to see me one day, and he said that these people are getting worried about your account in town, and you’re the only one that has any money in town anyway, and it looks like its running out.
I then showed him, I went over the books so that he could see that I actually had some money, and that I had ordered sale, and that I was going to be able to meet all of my bills. And he said, “you really are in trouble here, because your workmen I had been trying to lay off my workmen and when I did, suddenly the windows would be broken, and I had a building full of I had bought the machinery, I bought it really very, very cheap, because Bridgeport is a mechanical town, and so it was easy to get lathes, to get beautiful things that they nothing nobody was using those things anymore, so I was able to buy them, so I really had quite a beautiful shop set up there. And when I tried to close it up, things would go wrong all the time. I didn’t own the building it belonged to the Bridgeport Bank and they just rented it to me, so it was a rented building and full of my tools, and I didn’t want to spend the money to move the tools in fact I didn’t know where they should go. I would have been glad to have sold the tools, but at any rate, there were no customer’s to buy it. It was still very much the depth of the Depression.
So, the sheriff said, your men, I’ve talked to them, are just not going to allow you to close your place up. They are really so afraid about their jobs. He said, there is really only one way you really get out of here, and not go bankrupt, because I can see you are going to use up your funds, and then you’re going to be forced to just keep on going on spending money, and not producing anything, and not using it. So he said, if you will let me, as sheriff, I will make a sheriff’s sale I will sell off your machinery for you and close you up and do so in a minimum amount he said, you just wouldn’t be able to do that. And so I let him do it.
I ended up not owing anybody any money, and I had learned a great many lessons, and that was that. It made me, however, in thinking about strategy of the little individual taking initiatives, I made up my mind, thereafter that I would never own tools. I had really had quite a lot of shops. I want you to think about the experience I had in just producing the 240 houses in the early ’20’s-1922. I had 5 factories going and I invented my own machinery for making those fibrous blocks. It was interesting that the day after I talked about the fibrous blocks, somebody called my attention to the fact that the room outside here in the studio is lined with the material that I produced, and that the company as I finished it up and sold it out to, the Celotex Company for what they called Soundex, and it is still really the best sound absorption material you can get.
Now, I had invented the machinery for mixing this, it was machinery I had to have something where I did not take a heavy cementing material and just clot it together with these fibers, and when we had found then that the wood excelsior was best, I tried all kinds of things seaweed from the Sargasso sea, all kinds of dried grass and things, but nothing really worked quite so well as actually shredded shredded wood deliberately shredded wood. It was something that could be manufactured quite rapidly too. So, the idea was then to make a block that was really light weight it was like a felt hat, and so for what I had developed was the means of I learned how to do it, by just taking a pitch fork and putting this wet cement on it, so it looked like more or less milk and cream on there, and taking pitchforks with a number of guys and continually pulling it through the way you’d pull spaghetti out of a bunch, and keep spinning and throwing it up in the air, and gradually you spread the material over all of the fibers. I had to have invent a machine that would spread spread this liquid very thinly, but enough to also saturate it, to beat it, so that I developed a great tumbling drum, and this was before we had the cement tumblers that you see going along the highways. In fact, they came out of this particular invention where I then had developed a way of having a gear wheel on the outside of my drum, and driving it around. And driving it around fast enough that the material tumbled, it went out like a wave on the beach cresting throwing it over. And I moved it at a speed where it would crest over, and then I had a shaft going down through the center of it, with a great steel tongs on it, very much like the pitch fork, but just being a shaft, so the head of one was over the end of the other the base of the other, so the fibers could never get in onto the shaft and wind up on the shaft.
And, then, I was able to introduce the unbailed excelsior and the liquid at the front end, and this whole thing was slanted, and it would start cresting over and landing on the forks and being thrown into enormous. Then I had to have a scraper at the top because I found the liquid tended to stick on the thing, so the scraping was always dropping down onto the tongs below. By the time it would come out the other end, it was incredibly beautifully softened up and absolutely covered with it, but no massing at all, and from thereon I had a conveyor belt. And I used what was used for silo filling silos, I had a tray then a big blower, and we blew this down into molds, and then my molds were full of holes like the lightening holes I made six blocks at a time, and there were two big jig forms, looked like shells, they looked like shells for firing from a big cannon, there were two of these for the four inch holes coming to a streamlined point, and they sat inside in a jig inside of a
We put these we took a perforated sheet metal made into a cage, and it fitted down into the jig, and so just exactly the 16 inches long and 8 inches wide and the holes in …, and this fiber stuff just blew in around the streamlined cores and filled it up, and then we lifted that whole thing off and they went on it would set up chemically in a few hours. And then when we finished that, we had a saw and cut them into six separate blocks.
Anyway I had to develop my own machinery, it was a very fascinating matter and I developed until we got to the right material which was this magnesium oxychloride cement, we tried all other kinds of cements, some cheaper cements and so forth, and I had to have kiln so I learned a whole lot about oil burning kilns and built my own kilns and a little railroad track in my shop and things like that. It was a very fascinating basic experience of a young man getting into production engineering and reducing to practice various inventions.
One of the early patents I had was on this fibrous thing. I found the only other fibrous handling like this was in making felt hats. It was quite a game, so I went up to Waterbury and studied the hat making industry and so forth which was very fascinating. There they also took the hairs of the hare the rabbit and so forth, and they’d get them into the air, and then they’d suck them in all uniformly here saturated the air that was flying around and then pull that whole thing into one and the air just pull it down, they felt it down so beautifully.
Now, the this is all part of what I’m saying now I’m saying to you because of THE WORLD GAME idea, and I found how little human beings really understood about my world gaming. It’s quite easy to understand about the geoscope looking at the earth all at once. It’s quite easy to think about getting the inventorying of the world resources wherever they occur. It is easy to think about how you get the data where all the people are. And, so it isn’t just a matter of playing a world game, moving resources around to people at all and just things like a business or distributing of materials because materials mean nothing as I said you have to take them from half way around the world. You have to know your engineering, you have to know all the smelting and refining game, and the enormous forwarding of ships, and the enormous handling of materials game, and then you have to learn a great deal about not being wasteful in those materials, I’ll just give you a very important big lesson and big economic change that occurred brought out by Henry Ford.
Not only did Henry Ford really get into the first mass production of big things, but he, I think I no, I don’t think I told you. Henry Ford was completely inspired as he was a farm boy. And he wanted to have his farmers able to get to market to bring things in and to bring things home. He wanted to be able to get around a little more effectively, and he wanted a vehicle that could run around on the farm that would be very hardy. And that brought him then to the fact that he could bring down the prices by mass production for his farmer. So his motivation was not really one of making money, and never was. And he had great run ins with the money makers particularly with J.P. Morgan. The Henry Ford at the time of incidentally the he did he developed the Cadillac, then people shareholders, he had people that backed him and so forth, and he got into shareholder’s battle, and he lost the Cadillac, and he started all over again with a very much better his pure farm vehicle.
And Henry found himself being opposed by this General Motors group again, together, backed by J.P. Morgan by the big money. Henry, however, was extraordinarily ingenious in his mass production techniques, and making tools and so forth. And when the W.W.I did get going, and the English were trying so hard to get America to come in and help them. The Germans were trying equally hard to get America to come in, and get this enormous production which was obviously very greatly amplifiable in America whichever side it would come in on would really make the difference, and because the grand strategy was line of supply. And Americans might really be able out-produce in ships, and in one way or another get the goods there. England, without them, could not get on. And Germany, without them, really couldn’t get on.
So, we have the Henry Ford completely distressed by the idea of that W.W.I. He said “War is just awful.” So he, by this time he had learned from his first experience with the Cadillac group, he gradually bought in all the shares of all the people who backed him. It cost him a lot to do it, sometimes he paid a fantastic price, and some of the great fortunes in America come from what Henry Ford paid the stockholders but this gave to him, then, real complete control. He did not have to do things in the terms of what money makers and people who were only interested in making profits he could really, absolutely make a pure decision about how to really be efficient in production.
And, came then, this big World War, and the English as I said were so eager to have help. Henry Ford built a great he bought a very large ship ocean ship, and painted all over the sides. He made a peace ship and he sent it all around the world hoping he could convince people that we ought to have peace. Typical to me of about all you can do with protesting. He found it just didn’t work. And, so, he said, “Inasmuch as it doesn’t work, I don’t like war, but then the thing to do is to get the war over with, so I find I can’t stop it so what I’ll do is I’ll join up and I’ll get it over with.” So he told the English he would like to help them get it over with in a hurry.
And, he really didn’t like the imperialism that he felt in Germany. He felt the English would be the best one to aid, so and he wanted to get it over with, so he told the English he was going to help them. He already had English factories and assemblies, and they were just overwhelmed with the difference that this was going to mean to them. So Henry really did help them very, very greatly.
There were I will then point out in, at the time of coming into W.W.I, we had, we just had something called mild steel, and different steel makers made different steel. They were really not classified, there were no standards operative in the industry at all, and steel rusted very badly, and everywhere when I was young, coming into Boston and so forth everywhere was rust. The outside of the I say today, we see big dumps and things but it was worse looking dumps there because everything was rusting and the brownness everywhere it was a very disagreeable sight. And, so, Henry Ford, then, was with the English, and the English had the grand command in England, was approached by one of the English scientists, and he said, “Wouldn’t it be just as good, as getting so many guns to the front, if we could or, getting twice as many guns to the front if we could make the guns that do get to the front, last twice as long?” And they said, “Please don’t bother us.” And then they said “What did you say? How could you do such a nonsensical thing?” And he said, well we’ve had in the drawers here since 1854, and nobody has been interested in it, and they pulled out alloy steel.” Now, I say, that what had happened was that the steel makers really, the first steel making came when the great, what I called “the great pirates” with you, then found that the wooden sailing ships which they had put the steam engines into, really weren’t strong because they could drive them faster than what was really good for their wood. And it came into steel ships. And with the building of the steel ships, then, they got into very, very powerful capabilities, as you know. And then they got into the war buildings and so forth.
When the then it was simply the mass of the water ocean world who then used their resources to build the blast furnaces, the blast furnaces were making steel in America, and around the world, for 50 years. And the people, then, who had started who then were not only producing the steel for the ships, but then they found themselves needing electric generators, and they got themselves into boilers, and there was an enormous amount of manufacture of very special equipment going in that ship.
When there was then, saturation of the market of ships, then the owners of the blast furnaces, and the owners of the General Electrics and so forth found that there were other customers on the land that they had never thought about. They found then that municipalities would buy the electric generating equipment which they had thought was only good for battle ships, or for ships of the sea. So suddenly there were outlets, and this became a business in its own right. And they found, in contradistinction to the money they could make of the ships coming across the oceans bringing cargoes began to make much more money out of the manufacturing.
So steel making then became a very big this US Steel was a very fantastic all of the investing fantastic operation quite a lot of it went on actually here in Philadelphia. And, we have, it was the Pennsylvania game, and Pittsburgh very powerfully We have then, the steel men manufacturing steel. Scientists said to the bosses, I’ll show you how you can make steel so it won’t rust. And they said “You need to have your head examined. The more it rusts, the more we sell. Did you hear what I said? Take the papers away from that man, he’s crazy and, call the doctor.”
And, all the manufacturers simply, they had now a mechanical cow they could milk for money, and they didn’t want any change nothing was more an anathema in the early days of American manufacturers this went really up to and through W.W.I. So, it was very much of a shock to the English grand strategy when the Generals who didn’t know about the business money making side of it, were told by the scientists, “We have these alloys here, for all these years and are able to make these very much stronger steels, and they will last very much longer. So, the secret weapon of W.W.I was alloys. And it was kept very, very quiet, but suddenly the guns were out-shooting the Germans and it became a very, very important matter.
Henry Ford, being then privy to this, having gone into the mass production with the English, helping every way he could on production, became deeply acquainted with alloys. So he came back with, after W.W.I to his Detroit operation with a completely new way of looking at things in the way of alloys. So where you’ve often heard it said that Henry Ford was a stubborn old man who insisted on making a single little black the Model T, and he was just stubborn was not so. General Motors was immediately appealing to the customers by making a little fancier dash board, and more gears, and more instruments, and they were doing things very superficially. Henry Ford was changing his car much more rapidly than they were, but you couldn’t see it. It was the beginning, as I told you about, of that invisible world.
By the time he went from Model T, to Model A in 1928, he had 54 different types of steel that he had been manufacturing to go into his Model T’s exactly the right metal, for exactly the right function for the particular heats and the effects of pressures and the tolerances or whatever was logical. So, now those alloys were as different as rubies and diamonds, so Henry Ford said “I can’t possibly afford to buy steel from US Steel,” because the people who manufacture the steel, manufacture people wouldn’t buy ingots, and they wouldn’t buy the liquid steel coming out of the furnace, people needed forms, so they made sheets and plates, and so forth, and angle irons, and “I” Beams or whatever it may be, many sections they got out enough standards to seemingly satisfy most manufacturers that they have the stuff. So, Henry then said, “I can’t possibly afford to buy sheet,” and the only way he could get it from them was buying this sheet in some finished form, and I can’t buy sheet or “I” beams and melt them up and start to make my alloys, so he said “I’m going to have to go into my own mining.” So he then, he found that all the ships belonged to J.P. Morgan who rules the banks, he couldn’t get use his ships to go to Masabi. So he had to he set up his own he built his own ships, and he bought his own iron range at Masabi, and he had to set up what he called the Toledo in Detroit and Ironton Railroad, and he then started actually manufacturing his own steel, and making the right alloys.
Now, this became very, very impressive to Henry. And Henry began then his car the reason Henry Ford prospered wasn’t because he was a stubborn old man that just sold sort of a simple product for the simpleton people it was because his alloys did work, and the cars you could really abuse them, they could really be outdoors there and they weren’t rusting, and the farmer really could use it, and he just didn’t get into trouble. So the farmer just was for it and he bought it, and incidentally, at that time you bought the Ford for $450. It was a very nice price, and a beautiful product. And so, Henry, he had then to realize, once he was in alloys, he had then a research department going and finding better alloys. He became very much of an evolution in alloys. And this, then, told him, that, now remember these metals don’t include don’t come from the farm, and they don’t come from the same hills at all. They came from all over the world. And gradually Henry Ford began to have ships coming from all over the world, and he began to have railroad cars coming from all over the world. And Henry, then, got up a very extraordinary idea. He said “I see, then, that if I were dealing in end products I could afford to keep a warehouse full of this resource that I am going to use, and a warehouse full of that, but inasmuch as I am going to change my design, overnight, from this alloy to that alloy, if I were to buy any amount of material and have it in the warehouse, then suddenly I’ve changed my formula and I don’t use it. So I can’t possibly afford to do that, and anything sitting in warehouses is simply liable to be absolutely lost capital all together.” And he was having to play very tightly.
Incidentally, there was a point where he got into his mass production tool up, particularly in this on-going, in his own iron mines. He got where he needed money, he needed it very badly, and J.P. Morgan had loaned him money, and he got up to where there were $70 million which was a very large amount of money in those days, I assure you, and then J.P. Morgan was going to foreclose. I told you about the contract where the the contract where the distributor was required that they take so many cars. And Henry simply forced cars on all his distributors, so they had to get the cash. Therefore the distributor went to the bank, so the local banks practically, the J.P. Morgan banks had to come up with the money to pay for these cars that the distributors had agreed to take, and he got $70 million, which was collectible on his contracts, and they did awful publicity about this cruel man doing really the poor distributors, and everything.
But at any rate, he got clear of J.P. Morgan. And the only reason that we really have very great progress on what I would consider the very pro-human side of technology was that he would continually was frustrating the money makers and coming up with the new.
He said then, “If I can’t have my materials in a warehouse, then I’m going to have to get up an entirely new system. I’ve got to know how fast things are going to get to me, I’m going to have to keep track of things, so he got up a very extraordinary checking system, and I’ll tell you a little bit about that. As for instance, he had, if you bought a car of limestone I was in, when I was making those fibrous blocks in the Chicago area I was making them down in Joliet, Illinois, and I made them Magnesium Oxychloride cement came from a grinding mill down in Joliet, so I set up my factory right along side of them, but this man who owned that, Shindler, sold a great deal to Henry Ford in the way of ground limestone things that he needed in his steel making. And when Henry Ford bought a car he would telephone his purchasing agent they’d buy a car, it had to be rolling that day, and there was a Ford checker with the car went out with it. He had checkers on all of these shipments and they were continually reporting to Ford on where everything was, all of the time. Henry Ford paid cash for it this day, absolute cash for it that day, and went away that day. You had to give him very fast service, you had to be able to keep track of when he needed things, he must get them in a hurry, must know his sources where he could get things started in a hurry.
So he set up a game, and this was the nothing could have been more “world,” because his operation was really did have ships coming with nitrates out of Nikiki. They were all over the world. And what he did then was he developed a world game strategy very much the same way the Chief of Naval Operations of where all our ships are. And had to know where every train and every car load was, and the rate at which they were flowing towards Detroit, or towards his other assembly plants that graduated as time went on. And this was the first really time coordination and he stopped forever having anything in warehouses. He could slow down the car a little, so all of his his complete inventory was in motion. It was the largest moving picture that has ever been conceived of, the biggest scenario ever conceived of, and to make that really work was to me it is incredible that a little human being could get up a world operation of that size, particularly in the years when he did this we didn’t have, the radio wasn’t going and all kinds of things you and I would like to have going yesterday was the Morse Code that’s where you do S.O.S., so there was a tapping out of that, but there was no voice, like that, and we didn’t have the telephone lines extended as they are, and much was done by telegraph.
At any rate, he set up this and this brought about incredible change in the world pattern, because I have given you cities, and how cities began, and how the land owner the great baron said you must come inside the walls here, and they stored things in there. So when I was young, warehouses were a part of the scene, everywhere were warehouses in big cities in New York, or Boston, or Philadelphia enormous sums in the warehouses just full of stuff. And warehouses are gone altogether now. They are only for furniture and things like that, but big corporations no corporations every corporation that followed him found that they lost enormous amounts of money through warehousing they must not do it. So they all took on his time control study. Now, this changed cities very much when you gave up the warehouses. Now Henry, I want you to realize then, the extraordinary way this man is working, and how it is changing economics, and this is all part of what I would call, then, DESIGN SCIENCE.
And when you play world game, you are playing DESIGN SCIENCE. And you are seeing whether you can make a better bearing, you got to understand your production tools. And Henry was incredible in the sense of production tools, and he became enamored of interchangeability of parts. Which, again, the art had not developed. He said if we get down to fine enough tolerances, we’ll be able to have interchangeable parts. This brought him into, he fostered, there were some Swedish tool gauge makers very extraordinary gauges, and they, these men had learned how you making very special lathes, how they could control things to ten thousandths of an inch to one hundred thousandth of an inch and so forth where gauge blocks and so forth Henry fostered that whole development of those Swedish men, so he could really then, setting up his tools, with calipers with incredibly fine dimensions. These are not things that you and I can do with our eye I don’t know if you have ever tried this out on drafting but you have in your engineer’s scale fiftieth of an inch usually, there are some with a hundredth of an inch but, the human eye could not really differentiate, beyond there it just gets blurred it gets into the gray.
So when we get into offset when you get into printing you can then have little points of color printing with just these tiny little points and getting to Benday screens and so forth, down to 200 and so forth, looks like absolutely complete beautiful continuous color. Or you don’t see any of these separate gradations. So that there is a limit as to how far the human eye can differentiate intervals, and that is just about one hundredth of an inch, so when you begin to get into ten thousandths of an inch, and hundred thousandths of an inch incidentally, in the controls today, I mentioned to you the other day, we had gotten up to one ten millionth of an inch in some of the modern aerospace technology. Now this makes, as I gave you also the other day, the difference in strengths you can get by competent alignment. So Henry got into saying you can’t have individual borings and things like that you have to have jig boring you’ve got to have all the bearings of this machine all in beautiful, absolute rigid alignment, so all the holes are going to line up. You don’t do them independently and so forth. He got into incredible developments. And all of this he was the precedent for all of this, and as fast as he could do it, General Motors and the others would have to copy, but, now, this is all part again and I want you to understand, WHEN I TALK WORLD GAME I DO NOT MEAN, THEN, LOOKING AT THE MAP AND LOOKING AT RESOURCES AND PEOPLE AND JUST SORT OF MAKING CHESS MOVES AT ALL. MY WORLD GAME IS PLAYED ENTIRELY BY DESIGN SCIENCE AND WHAT I THEN CALL COMPREHENSIVE ANTICIPATORY DESIGN SCIENCE. And, comprehensive, because you’ve got to think about the world you’ve got to think everything that is involved it has to do with the atmosphere, exhausting the biosphere you can’t do that, obviously. You’ve got to think about the side effects, and you’ve got to be responsible for disturbing the earth participating in Nature’s own transforming in every kind of way. You must be a responsible participant in Nature’s own evolution.
And it is just exactly the opposite of the money making! All your control, and I was able to luckily, I committed myself to the precession and assumed if I did what Nature wants to do, or was trying to do, then I will find myself getting on, and that part did work. But, if I had ever, said I was going to carry on just by money making, I would really have been licked.
I am taking you back then, now, to other things I have been talking about. I wanted to get you to understand what I meant by WORLD GAME and I find a great many people very excited when I first discussed or disclosed my World Game which I have been doing since 1927 because I took my Navy experience of World because Navy is World inherently, and Army is local. And so that Navy had War games, and there was the War College, and the game was suddenly war was declared, the politicians do that, that’s not the Navy, but now you’ve got the job of “How do you get all of the world’s resources under control to control that line of supply?” That was it. Who’s going to control the line of supply? That’s who’s going to control the world.
So there was a grand strategy, and I was very used to then, thinking in resources and so I made up my mind in 1927, I started my big game, I was going to peel off and I was going to take my Navy World War games and I’m going to play it now on a basis of where are the resources and how do I use all of the technologies and so forth in making man a success and applying it to the livingry instead of the weaponry. Trying to find out what do we need for environment controls.
Now, when I was explaining, this to the first group, Meddy Gabel was a part of, I went through many scenarios, I went through, then, various things that I did, and through working assumptions, if you can make this design, then what are the side effects and so forth, and then you can get some scoring. And because I was dealing with things I was very familiar with and many times I had run through and knew all my answers as I gave them because I then could give them something immediately really quite convincing how powerful that was. Those who participated, and a number of individuals who participated in that game were very, very excited in New York, and some of them really rushed off in a hurry, because they found it was so dramatic, that it was really pretty easy to play a game of scenario, and what they did then you get some maps, and really were reciting and doing what I was doing up there. And this could be very exciting and impressive to people, because they could see the results in a hurry In other words, they were really play-actors going thru some acts that I had gone through, and this, then, brought about various other side results where, because they didn’t really know anything about the design science side. So they were simply talking about already tested cases, and not getting at what was really fundamental to me. So I found there was such a misunderstanding in the WORLD GAMEing end of it, I asked all the people that had participated to stop using the word WORLD GAME, and go into world game studies, but please not to call it WORLD GAMES, and to get to understand and really feel the DESIGN SCIENCE side.
And so, everybody who was participating with me was very responsible and they did just that. Gale’s group and so forth you call it “World Game Studies Group, scenarios”. But they now have gotten so good and gotten so familiar with this being design science, that I think, I felt it was absolutely, last June, the seminar that was held here in Pennsylvania, should really from now on I have no apprehension about their using the words WORLD GAME. But I don’t want it to be lost the significance of this WORLD GAME capability for humanity, and it really is completely dependent on really feeling the DESIGN SCIENCE side of things. So that when I’m showing you pictures of cars, which is just fun, and I’ve had a lot of excitement with it, I want you to continually think with me about all the other parts of the responsibility I said, are you going to buy the tools or are you going to rent them? And so forth.
As for instance, after Bridgeport, I said “I will never again own another tool,” and I will only do things at other people’s shops where they have tools, and where they need the tools, and I’m not going to hire anybody, I’m only going to go to the other man, and pay him to take the people he already has hired and his machinery and give him a contract to produce the thing, so that the people will not be afraid of when they get through with my part that they’re not going to have a job. This really had to be completely disconnected. That is why when it came to doing what I’ve been talking to you about today, about the house the first full-sized Dymaxion House, the Beech Aircraft I made just such a deal with them, and I’ll tell how that came about because it is important for you to know, also, how these things come about.
But, at all times here, going back to the just the 1922 and my five little factories, I am continually learning things that happened I found, I always lost my tools. Tools disappear anyway, people want tools and they disappear very easily anyway, and you spend an enormous amount trying to guard them, and I saw that time and again I set up my own shops, got all my tools very expensively ready and I and either they were stolen or I found that I couldn’t afford to keep them, one way or another I had to let them go. So this brought me to absolutely, I was forced to a new strategy, as a little individual to carry on.
Now, there was an item that I went very close to the other day with you and failed to say something, and as I was talking to you most recently about Ford and one thing and another, it began to dawn that I had ought to make one little digression over there and bring it in.
It had to do with that inventorying, the mobile inventory of Henry Ford. I’m going I have something else to think about right now.
I feel then, thinking about the human individual as a conceiver as a comprehensive anticipatory design scientist, I would really I have also said to myself, such words as “artist” and “poet” are names that cannot be professed by individuals, but society in retrospect can really in real retrospect, not right away, can evaluate as to whether that really did have something to do with the evolutionary events of humanity, and I, so my own guess is that Henry Ford, who, and Henry thought of art, the word a r t as something that was in museums, and galleries, and some rich men’s houses, and he did not like at all the gallery world of New York and that. And he felt it was part of the money people’s game, and it didn’t feel right to him at all.
His sense of art was, he liked old fashioned American music and Americana in particular, and he bought, went out buying old inns like the Wayside Inn in Massachusetts, and brought them out to his Deerfield park out there in Detroit. And he one of the things he liked very much was as I said the fiddlers and so forth, the kind of music of the generation he lived in he was a very, very great patron of that, but he also was a “twinkle dancer”, and he literally could jump over his own desk. Even at considerable age, I don’t know it was up to possibly 65 or so he could still jump over his own desk. Because he loved to do to go out into that kind of music and dancing, and that was art to Henry and the rest was not. He never thought of what he, himself was doing, as an art. And as I point out to you, as we go through the ages there are different canvasses and there are different tools of the artist, and to me, in the twentieth century, this man was really an artist on behalf of humanity. He was a great conceiver.
And I felt that that time study he made of the world, and actually painted the picture, where the ships were going, and they were carrying it, and he was in touch with them. He was conducting a great orchestra and really making it work. I think this was possibly, at my estimate, Henry Ford in the 21st century or 22nd, will be called THE great artist of the 20th century. THE great artist. And it will be really be very moving. They’ll begin to dig out his books and find the things Henry was saying, that he has been very mis-reported because big money just did not like Henry. He was very much of a trouble maker for them. And they had great power that big money, and the propaganda was really propaganda is very powerful. And particularly in the power structure, and this is the powerful people, and this is the way they say, this is the way I like and so forth, other people don’t really tend to getting to say that, it gets to be terribly, terribly powerful. And they own the newspaper, in fact they own this critic and the critic says it this way that way. Now, it’s not something you can cope with very easily, so Henry will gradually emerge.
I was very sad that his own son, Edsel, did not understand this extraordinary farmer Henry his father. Edsel was absolutely corruptible, and the big money bought him in. And so he joined up with the big money makers. When, at the time of the 50th Anniversary of Ford Motor Company, Young Henry III was coming along, I hoped he might understand, and I tried to incidentally in my book NINE CHAINS TO THE MOON I talk about Henry this way. And I gave him a copy of NINE CHAINS TO THE MOON and I said I think you ought to be celebrating Henry here as the artist, and the family said “That’s absolute nonsense.” They did not see it that way at all. They were really seeing it in a very, very hard way.
Now, with your sensitivity alerted about DESIGN SCIENCE it is interesting, also, to keep ourselves right up to the minute. I had a telephone call at the office just before I came over here, from Alvin Toffler I don’t know whether you know Alvin Toffler, but he is a very, very extraordinarily good writer, and Alvin said that he had been in Washington during all the formation of the new Congress, and he said that so much went on. All this young blood of the Congress which we all read about, and they were all challenging the old committees which are absolutely deadened and make our representative system almost useless. And highly corruptible. So that we have that young group, then, getting at the committees. But he said that, what was not reported in the news, he said “Good news rarely gets reported,” but one of the most important things that came out of it was that it became a statutory requirement in the government, that all the new committees now, all have to have a “futures control”, they have to be literally looking ahead, and, he said “This hasn’t been published for some reason newspaper didn’t say anything about it.” But he said, he, Alvin, and a number of other people were so excited by this that he called me up to know whether I would join forces with him and he is developing a group with a name with the word “comprehensive” in it, and, oh “anticipatory” committee, and they were wanting to congratulate the Congress as people who were really very well known as writers and have some authority and credit with society to be congratulating the Congress on this, but he said “We want to get them going.” I said, “you might as well use the popular term get cracking!” And that would be the thing, so he is going to use that term.
At any rate, I said I would join up, but I think it is interesting that we have our Congress getting around to the word being used is “anticipatory.” Now, how many years I have had COMPREHENSIVE PARTICIPATORY DESIGN SCIENCE and people were saying “What is all this verbosity about here. Why don’t you use just industrial design or something?” I found industrial design, incidentally, is a great misnomer. Industrial design came about the words were invented in the mid twenties. They were invented when a great many people after W.W.I, not knowing that all that tooling was available and was suddenly going to go in a big direction didn’t know you were going to get into an enormous amount of production of cars automobiles. And that is exactly what happened. As we went into W.W.I, there were a hundred and twenty five automobile manufacturers, and every one of them started with the racing man an ingenious inventor, building his own car and get a name, whether it was an…, or whatever the whichever the names were. These were all very competent guys. And, they really were interested in making a car, and they were interested in loved driving it and so forth, and they liked the public’s interest, so the show was very fascinating. But they were somebody would come along and say “I love would you make me one of those cars?” and the guy would say “I don’t know whether I’ve got time, I’m busy racing ” and so businessmen began to hear this being said, and said, they stood behind these guys and said “The man wants to buy one,” he said “Right, Joe, I’ll help you and we’ll make this car,” so they gradually all got to making cars, so as we came into W.W.I, there were 125 different automobile companies all primary. And they were
So, after W.W.I, and all this machinery was there, and production started to get really going, with the Henry Ford ideas, it really was very different, so the little guy didn’t have those kind of tools. So the first thing they began to realize, if you’re going to produce at all, you had to have tools, and so, there were lots of very extraordinarily good cars there were some superb pieces of design, and tooling was up so it was quite something, so that automobile company after automobile company kept going bust. They bought a lot of tools, and they had they got 30,000 orders and l5,000 orders, and that looks like a lot of orders, doesn’t it? They said, I’m going to make some money out of that. At any rate, people on Wall Street all began betting on automobile companies. Boy, this is a brand new one. So all American began to bet on it. So a lot of shares are sold, and a lot of automobile companies are all going bust. And that got to be a very sorry turn of affairs, so they there was complex of them that got sold primarily there was the Dodge car, the Dodge group. And they were in real trouble, so there is a banking firm in New York, Dillon-Reed at the time, and they, then, put together a group of the bankrupt firms, because Dillon-Reed had some design science, and some engineers really making some studies, and they found that there were really you could only have one premium car, where people would pay anything a rich man so it was a Rolls Royce, and Americans couldn’t really break through on that one. Rolls had it, and, then, you might get a sort of competitor to that one, but you’d have to work awfully hard, so there could be one Cadillac, one Packard, or one some kind of fancy car out there.
Then there was a really a good sort of middle-priced one like the Buick size, and then there was a production car. They said, you were up against it. If you wanted to go up against that premium one, you were probably going to go bust. It was very, very hard to just If you wanted to go in that middle one, that’s going to be pretty difficult also, because there are too many fluctuations, but if you get to the mass production one What they learned was, I’m going to give you a diagram. We have what it would cost to tool up, and this tooling up is really running into the millions of dollars, so there are the buildings themselves, and all the tools that went in them, and so forth, and having to hire a lot of people to produce an enormous, big labor force going on with a lot of administrators before you’ve ever produced anything. So there was then this enormous capital cost then at the outset. If you then made that capital cost and you only produced one car you’d have to charge $70 million for that car, or $50 million whatever it is for the car, and obviously no one is going to pay you $50 million for the car.
So what they found was that their the automobile itself, after you have designed it, you freeze your design and it weighs just so much. And in that of that automobile, there were very many, there were very heavy cars in those days, but let me just take somewhere in the 3 ton automobile. Out of the 3 tons, a very large part of that is about 2 tons is steel. And once you get mass purchasing of steel, by the time you buy 100 cars, the price does not go down any more, so there is really a fixed price for production steel. So therefore you find that the car, as designed, has a base price per pound, so much steel, so much glass, whatever it may be the early ones didn’t have much glass. They were all open tourings and so forth. But there was a glass windshield, and even then they had celluloid windshields, those sloping ones, because glass was expensive part to put in there, and it weighed a whole lot.
At any rate, you had a base price of your car per pound, and you had then, the capital costs up here. So obviously, you had then, you divide the number of cars you produce, you divide that number into your capital cost and that is your overhead the overhead in relation then to the fixed costs of what it costs per pound. So the overhead is very different then from the fixed cost. Now they found then, not until, in the size of operation of the automobile, not until the record made it very clear, not until you got to selling 130,000 cars a year could you go into mass production. So what Dillon Reed did was to mass together, buy enough factories that had gone bust when the company went bust the tools didn’t go bust, they were beautiful tools, lovely drill press so they put enough companies together to get a mass produced capability of more than 130,000 cars, and they set about then to develop a car that they would sell that way.
This became, then, the Chrysler group, and Walter Chrysler, then, I talked a little bit about. He was an extremely good actual mechanic. He was a true production engineering man too. And, so that was Dillon Reed, and with it came then, this was mid-20’s, and big money now suddenly said, “We now really know what we’re doing,” and setting up this Chrysler company and, Chrysler really was an incredible hit, beautiful design at the time, and first car with four-wheel brakes, and first car that had a really beautifully designed bearings and so forth, and it really was, truly superior, fantastic little thing. And the, now the Wall Street was in the automobile business in really a big way and really looking at big things. They said “The thing that really is making trouble is, in Detroit we have all these inventors who made those cars, and we bring them together, and all those men are interested in is inventing and making a better car. What we’ve got to do is make money. And we can’t have changes and changes. These people are continually changing things. They never are contented. So that they mess up the whole program. Everything they looked into so that we’ve got to get all the inventors out of Detroit. All we want is production men in Detroit. And this is exactly what they did. They were a great power.
So everybody said, if you’re not improving the car, you’re not going to be able because the American people loved the automobile show, their whole life was suddenly around this new ability to roll from here to there instead of walking from here to there, so it was a very big thing. It was terribly exciting, and our lives began to change. I was really able to cover distances I never dreamed I could cover, and I could have these five factories and be getting around.
Well, automobile show. So the Dillon-Reed said, then, that’s very good. The advertising houses up in mid-town New York said this is where the big advertising firms began to be known in a powerful way. They said, just at that year, in 1926, the air brush was invented, and you can really do some very nice modulation in a hurry with an air brush, so they said, we will the advertising house said “We’ll handle that, we’ll we really won’t change the car, all we want is reliable production and reliable parts we know how to turn out a good car now, really produce it really make some money and we’ll take care of the “newness factor” with the public so they’ll feel they’re getting a new model simply by superficiality, and we’ll paint a new picture, we’ll dress up the outside of the car, and this became, this is the word “industrial designer.” So the “industrial designer” was a stylist, a superficial stylist of machinery. And began to such words as “schmaltz” and so forth began to come along, and it was the beginning of America beginning to deceive itself, where the money making side really began to corrupt really a tremendous earnestness of the human being to really understand his car, a very exciting thing to me to really understand my car and learn more and more about the gases, and the carburetions, and the electronics and things fascinating. But suddenly they said, “We don’t want you to do that.” And the new banking world said we don’t even want you to even have to lift the hood, and so forth well you could make that seemingly a great virtue, and so you get to the point where, not only if you did lift the hood, everything was arranged in such a way you could not get at the part unless you have the special tool of that particular service station. All of this was deliberately done.
Now, at any rate, I wanted you to know where the word “industrial design” so a great many beautiful human beings, like kids would go into architecture, and get the idea they would be designing people’s buildings instead of just learning how to be a draftsman in somebody’s mechanical office there. And so a number of people kid’s say, industry is really a fascinating thing, I’m going to be an industrial I really understand how you design in industry… They’re not taught that way at all, they don’t know anything about these tolerances, they simply are then at the schools they are near the engineering department and they learn a little bit about how it goes, but their job is to sell it, and further more “industrial designer” also uses second story people to go and steal the other man’s design and so forth. It is not a nice profession. And if you really get deeply into it, then as you talk about architecture it turns into being just sort of a merchandising game where the man is really a salesman, and having really taken incredible amounts of orders, and doesn’t have his own way at all. Because the patron decides he’s going to build a building. The architect doesn’t decide it. And whether what the patron is going to build the building for is a good idea or not, the architect doesn’t question that. Architects don’t say to the patron, I don’t think you ought to build that building. I don’t think you ought to be making money. They don’t say those kinds of things. So, the poor little architect wants to eat, and his family wants to eat, so, he says, “Thank you Mr., you’re going to take me on like that, and the patron says, “Now my wife would like to live like this, here are some pictures she told me about so we’ve got to get that in there. And it turns out that the building code says its going to be like that, and the labor union says it’s going to be like that, and the patron says I don’t want you making any special door knobs, we are going to get our Sweet’s catalog so, I said, in the end, he is just a good taste purchasing agent. So, because he’s using time savers, and all the standards, and everything, and much of it is getting onto the computers today so he’s really just a salesman. The architect gets to be a salesman for his poor office trying here to struggle along this group is coming together of very nice human beings, seeing if they can keep eating. Now, I want you to feel deeply with me. I talk hard this way, because I’ve been in it so much that I really do know what the values are here, and I do see then that when I talked about what the little individual can do, that he has got to understand these things. He just can’t possibly survive out there if he doesn’t really understand just what lawyers are doing and what patents are doing you’ve got to understand that patent world, and you’ve got to understand what people are up to in their contracts and trying to make you buy things and whatever it may be. You have to be absolutely, have real discriminatory capability out of experience.
And, there, I was thinking, getting very close to something I want to talk to you about possibly something to do with Chrysler or Henry Ford something I left out telling you the other day. It will come. The next time I’m going to interrupt myself where I am and say it.
Also, it’s also fascinating the way our brains do work, and about this call up and recall and how to accommodate, the information, you are suddenly being challenged, something new, right in the middle of something. And do you stop talking to people at the table and write it down, or do you it’s something to be coped with and particularly if you really are trying to find out how through your own sensitivity, how to accommodate what Nature is trying to do. Because I think we are very much receptors, and, as I say evolution is trying very hard to make man a success, so we all get these little things to think about. And she really means to interrupt, and I’ve tried to play all kinds of games with myself, so I won’t forget what you’re saying and yet finish that conversation and get over here. And tonight, I’ve missed one, and I hope it will come back. I think it will.
Oh. Alright. I, then, gave you W.W.I, the secret weapon was our alloys. This became then, with Henry getting into alloys, and accommodating it by not having any storages it imposed any reason why he shouldn’t make a change in the design in a hurry, we have then all of industry catching onto that. So as we enter into W.W.II, everyone of the particularly because of the aircraft but all the great production plants have enormous amounts of alloys, so that aircraft plants, you knew you were going to need a lot of different new alloys of aluminum, and they did all kinds of aircraft. Everyone of these alloys has special capabilities, and as we get into really good design, such as of an airplane, we do get into being absolutely specific on the alloy you have to use. You must really know that strength. You are dealing in everything is strength/weight ratios, and in the air world where you’re getting up there in the sky the stress is going to occur. You’ve got to know just what you’re doing. So aircraft plants incredible bins, vertical bins of different alloys of every different type of angle iron, every angle iron of different size, and each one has color-coded for different kind of alloys and so forth. The plants were incredible forests of these alloys in some usable form as you use in aircraft.
Because in the aircraft, you were not getting into mass production, you were going to then, have a special craftsman going to take this piece of metal and going to put it into his lathe, or whatever it is and get it into the next form. We are continually forming, and been forming relatively few parts compared to the automobile game automobile has what they call class a tools they can stamp out l0 million parts. In the aircraft industry we got into, I spoke to you about “soft tooling” which is good for 100 parts, and we’re going to change the design pretty soon anyway, so that is enough.
The, I’ll be coming to that part and following through with it really very powerfully in a minute. But W.W.II then, gave us this forest of alloys. In W.W.I you didn’t know anything about alloys at all, so enormous numbers of experts on those alloys. Research was still going on and so new pieces would come in. As a consequence the engineers designing parts would then, when you get on the production side where you are going to produce the part, you had a great deal of scrap. Furthermore, the engineers had then been told that as you rolled a sheet of aluminum, and at the edge of the rollers there was a completely different pressure from the middle of the area, so you must only use the middle of the area, so they were cutting anything they were going to produce, they would specify that it had to be cut out of the heart of the sheet. The amount of scrap was very great. It got to the point where in car loadings and backlog of cars needed, almost three times as many cars were being used to take scrap away from factories as taking fresh materials to them. Because when you got into the scrap, it took a lot of room. This got to be an incredibly inefficient new aspect of production at the time of W.W.II.
Now, I’m going to, because the next thing I’m going to show you is the Beech Aircraft House that I built in Beech Aircraft, in which was the airplane world. I’d like you to have a strong feeling about things that controlled the conditions under which I came there, and I did make my deal with them only on the basis of using the very best men they had, best mechanics who were absolutely certain of their jobs. And now, with W.W.II looming, the automobile companies had gotten very powerful and very strong, and there had gotten to be a very, very big business and we have war looming, and the this time in 1938-40 as I told you I was Technical and Science Editor in FORTUNE MAGAZINE. I was loaned by FORTUNE in 1940 to write a book on the Chrysler Company. I was loaned to the Chrysler Company to write a book about the Chrysler Company. And one other FORTUNE editor, Larry I can’t say it, doesn’t make any difference the two of us were loaned to do this job, and it was very much an experience. Because the Chrysler Company, by this time old Walter had died, and you got a very big business world running it, and running it hard, hard as hard could be.
And we were in Detroit, and so, they just said, the Chrysler Company in its annual report, it was the report of the Chairman of the Board of Directors, has never done anything more than show balance sheets and what the profits and losses are, and told the stockholders nothing. But they said, we’d like to, we’re really getting up a propaganda unit war is coming and we’d like to have the Chairman of the Board write a very exhaustive explanation of the Chrysler Company, and how powerful that Chrysler Company is, what extraordinary controls it has, and how very suited it is, then, for enormous amounts of war work. And this was very much of a propaganda undertaking, and they had spent a million dollars, which is not so much money today, but which was quite a lot at that time, they spent a million dollars setting up a research department. Research departments in Detroit up to that time, Henry Ford had them and so forth, but the other boys, would simply, their research was a “spying” department to find out what Henry is doing, or whatever it is. And, the, so they set up a research department and they asked the engineering department at the University of Michigan to design a research department for them. So they developed a generalized research department, and being a scientific a very, very powerful university, they were then able to find all kinds of scientific tools which could be used in research, and they built a building, with beautiful glass rooms, and tiled each one of these separate rooms, so you could look through the glass and see this laboratory, and then they put all these machines testing everything incredible number of things X-ray diffraction machine, whatever it may be. And they had in, you could walk through the isles of this thing. It was just a showcase, and then there were scientists, obviously, in white coats, and so these scientists in white coats were taken on from the university.
So when I was asked then, to write this book, incidentally, they bought some really very beautiful research equipment. And, so, it turned out, when I wrote my book, I did really write about the comprehensive undertaking of producing cars, and so forth, and got down then to getting tooled up, and I found they had a term out there in the automobile world after you get your tools they start smashing metal that ‘s the expression they use “smashing metal.” Like a farmer says “I’m going to go out hoeing,” well you’re smashing metal now your tooled up. And, that is really the general picture you get, you have such beautiful tools just smash it and it comes out alright anyway.
Now, the, I wrote my book, and you can get that book, and it was called NEW WORLDS IN ENGINEERING. But, I don’t, I never had anything I took pride in I had more of a sense of shame about, at any rate. I wrote as earnestly and honestly as I could about this whole thing. Then, their public relations department, and the name I will not necessarily give you, but the man who founded it also had been very privy and part of that Dillon-Reed business I spoke to you about of getting to the air brush and industrial design, and deceiving the public. At any rate, their public relations people sat on top of they had arranged with FORTUNE MAGAZINE to loan me, and they sat right on top of Larry and myself very hard. I had, I got a beautiful light photographer, on LIFE MAGAZINE, George Kaga and we did make incredibly good indoor photographs. It was difficult to do in those days. The blackness, the absorption of light inside of the big factories was such that you had to have, when he wanted to go he had a whole carload of klieg lights brought from California, from Hollywood to make pictures, and we did really get superb pictures. Years later in LIFE MAGAZINE they published the whole of that story, because we did get as good a picture as you could possibly get of really the manufacturing of automobiles, and what all the controls are.
Now, I wanted to identify the functioning , they wanted me to do something about this research department, I was identifying the function of the researcher in relation to all the production there, and in my story, then, I said that this man, I showed the things he could do, and I explained exactly how the tools and the instruments worked, and what kind of information you could get, and I showed that he could really save the Chrysler Company millions of dollars and so forth. I said so, and they, the public relations department said, they red penciled that, they said “You can’t possibly say that or this man is going to ask for a raise.” We can’t have any such thing as that! The whole of management was absolutely all the workers and everybody absolute enemy. They treated them as enemy. And they really detested their workers, and I could not say a worker was doing anything good, or out it went. And every time they came to something that I said that they didn’t like, they would just cross it and they left a space there, and in the middle of my text it would say, Chrysler also sells Diesel Marine Engines. They kept putting little advertising skits leaving out my words, not trying to make the sentence get together again, just in would come this nonsense, so, at any rate, this really was quite an insight into a great corporation, and within the Chrysler Company, they did not admit there was even a Ford Company. Let alone that Walter Chrysler might ever know that I had a car, that he was my friend, nobody else ever invented a car except Walter Chrysler, that’s all. There was only one invention of the automobile. He invented the automobile. And that’s the way it was as a public relations dictum.
I went out to the different executives houses, they asked me to go out and see them, and they wanted a write up of those executives and so forth and they were out at Grosse Pointe, and they had great big stone houses, very fancy, and as we were driving up, I see a man out there cutting the lawn, and when I rang the bell there was quite a little wait, and suddenly a man appears at the front door, and he and his wife, they had no servants, but they put on the act as though there were a great many servants around, and I got into their library, and I found that all the libraries were just printed backs of books there were no books behind them and so forth. They simply, literally, were doing the whole idea of Detroit thing had gone that bad. It was a complete sham.
Now, being as intimate as I really was with producing cars myself and having had Walter Chrysler and during the days of the big automobile companies wanted to make my car and then discovered they couldn’t make it, that the banking system wouldn’t allow them to do it, I did complete that for you alright didn’t I? I did really see a great deal of those automobile companies, and I would guess as Science and Technology Consultant for FORTUNE MAGAZINE, and then my job as Head Mechanic of Engineering of the Board of Economic Warfare, I think I have possibly for one reason or another, had to inspect more manufacturing establishments than anybody you’ve ever known. And I really got to see the evolution, or feel the evolution of the tools come along. And incidentally, at the present time you really can’t the invisible revolution you just see green boxes now. You used to be able to really see and feel what the tool was doing, but you can’t anymore. So now, that really gets you into this kind of education that we’re getting into, where a man gets to be a physicist and so forth, and he has become very much of a specialist inside that green box, and society is not seeing it, so this is all the more reason why society has to have the kind of insights I am trying to give you and that is one reason why I feel a terrific responsibility in doing this picture with you. To have to try, to have to feel this thing what happened before it went invisible.
So I said to you, I realize that once the computer is there, people will not have the advantage I had of actually seeing the figures go round. I wouldn’t have made many of the discoveries I had if I hadn’t had to do it long hand. Doing it long hand was a tremendously valuable experience.
Now, this brings me then to, I did it in FORTUNE MAGAZINE in 1940, the same year that I was doing Sperry Company and doing Chrysler and doing things like that. I worked on did the story of Glenn Martin of Martin Aircraft down in Baltimore, which is no more, and they were producing Sikorsky I was up at Bridgeport, and I got to know Sikorsky quite well. When I was producing my car, then he liked my car very much. At that time all Sikorsky made were amphibious, they were flying boats, and he made the flying boats for Pan American Airways they were, there was a great deal, pretty much all the transoceanic such as it was, was all in flying boats. You got bigger and bigger boats, and then Sikorsky was purchased by United Aircraft, and the Pratt and Whitney, United Aircraft owned Pratt and Whitney, and produced the Sikorsky they were flying boats. It was not until 1944, that Sikorsky demonstrates his helicopter. So that helicopter of Sikorsky’s is in a sense a very new venture. They were flying boats, but the best of the big flying boats were made by Glenn Martin down in Baltimore, and so there was a great thought that W.W.II is looming, and so the boats are going to be terribly important. There was no idea of the kind of advance we were going to have in airplane engines and so forth where you wouldn’t have to worry about the short water hops, and nobody knew we were going to build the kind of airports that we built during W.W.II, so the water was very important up to that time.
Now Glenn Martin’s factory in Baltimore, Glenn Martin himself was, he was during W.W.I, the one who began to make bombers that was big planes in contradistinction to fighting planes and just observation planes. And Glenn Martin was a very great designer great friend, incidentally, of Starling Burgess who I then had done much work with, and Glenn Martin, when I came down with FORTUNE to do that story on Martin Aircraft and the reason that FORTUNE was doing it was that W.W.II is looming, and there was great talk on the part of Detroit about they are now going to take this enormous production capability they had, and the Chrysler Company, for instance, they wanted to turn out the airplanes. They said everybody is going to have it’s going to be an air war and you’re going to have that. So Chrysler actually became diverted into tanks. They became the great tank makers, and other companies got into the airplanes General Motors and Ford and so forth.
Now, we have the Glenn Martin did everything possible to show me during our research work at Glenn Martin’s plant that it would be absolutely impossible for the automobile companies to ever the Detroit kind of production to ever enter into the production of an airplane. So he gave us all the arguments why it can’t be done. He showed us then the sheet metal worker. And sheet metal workers, by the way, are, at my Bridgeport plant when I was producing my car, that was an aluminum body. That aluminum body is hammered out of sheet aluminum. It is possible to hammer steel or aluminum sheet and make it into curvature. You start hammering here and you start stretching it here just keep spreading out a little. These men don’t know it, but what happens is they are pushing atoms around because the atoms have critical proximity one with another, you can push them around and they still hold onto the other atoms, so one of the things that really surprised me and I really got into working metals that you can take metal and “gather” it, you can start with a sheet and make it dump into a chunk, or you can spread it out.
Now, the atoms could roll around on one another to get stacked up or to be thinned out again. Now, in the producing my car in Bridgeport, the great hammer man I had was a Pole. And the Poles were THE hammer men. In Bridgeport things were supported it was really one of THE great mechanics towns of America in the early days, at the time of W.W.I, it was THE great ammunition area, and inland we have Springfield Guns and things like that, but Bridgeport was an enormous war town.
I found, Sikorsky used to lend me people at Bridgeport when I needed I’m making my car, I’m using flexible steel cables, and I want to splice them. To really have strength you have to know to splice flexible aircraft steel wires together is really an extraordinary art. And, again, only a Pole could do that. Somehow or other the Poles have very special metal work, and my hammer man, all the hammer men were Poles. And this became, we can find, from the old armor making came through ages of making the breast plates and things like that. They were the great experts the Polish craftsmen. I found that this was really a very interesting thing, as I began to know my industry, and do prototyping work. After the time I built my car in Bridgeport all those tool men and metal workers all moved west because they were needed in prototyping of research in Detroit got a lot, and they went even further into California they went wherever the airplane companies were, but a certain amount were used in Detroit. And very few were making experimental cars. My friend Bill Stout who produced the first tri-motor aluminum airplane for Henry Ford, then built his Scarab car I told you, after being very excited by my Dymaxion Car, and he had at his little plant beautiful sheet metal workers. And I needed to have some sheet metal work done later on, which we will come to my bathroom, because I wanted then to develop prototypes in copper sheet, and copper sheet is particularly good because, steel will get harder and harder and more difficult to anneal. Copper you can anneal it if you just keep working and working it, just a little bit of heat and it goes practically back into jelly form, and it just never gets tired. Many of the other metals get tired, and they build up a fatigue, and after you’ve worked them enough they are going to just crack apart. But copper would not do it, so it was a particularly good metal for doing prototyping work, if you wanted to get something shaped out, or maybe if you were going to produce it in plastic or something, but for your main shaping copper is ideal. So I did develop my first mass production bathroom in copper sheet. But I had to go to Detroit for hammer men, whereas there were available in Carbon in Bridgeport Connecticut in the ’30’s. By the time it got to the early ’30’s Late ’30’s they had all moved west.
Now, the I spoke Glenn Martin, and Glenn Martin showing me then that the sheet metal workers understood then that the that the same piece of metal can have twice the tensile strength this way than it has that way at 90 degrees, just precessionally. And he said these sheet metal workers know that, but nobody else knows it, so see in Detroit, people start manufacturing steel and think they are going to throw metal in, smashing metal, and they’ll put it in the wrong way and the plane is going to come apart. So for every single objection Glenn Martin could get up, FORTUNE also was really just caring about the tycoons and the money makers and so forth they got some scientists to look at the things Martin had said, and the scientists said, “Well, I’ve got X-ray diffraction, now, I can look at that metal,” and tell you exactly where the grain is. And we can have then a tool such as was developed in the making of the razor blades the Gillette Company found they could take sheet, continuous strip metal and they could keep running it through, sharpening it at both edges, so it was a continuous thing, and then chop it into separate pieces, and when they chopped it into separate pieces they needed to do more honing and things like that, so that they then developed the mass production the little pneumatic cups, little tiny tubes that just sucked, that kept picking this thing out of the machines and so forth, so that they saw they could take the machine that would pick up the piece of metal, and with x-ray diffraction know exactly how to orient it to put it into the machine the right way.
There was not a single thing that Glenn Martin and his engineers could say to me, that were reasons that Detroit could never get into mass production of airplanes, that they couldn’t find a scientist that would give them some trick that could be played that would make it possible. So for one reason and another the automobile world then was able to convince the American Congress and all the representatives there that Detroit was ideal to produce airplanes. And as I say the Glenn Martins and all these people just shaking their heads it never could be done they thought.
So, we have, Air Force then was forced by the Congress and by the propaganda of Detroit into agreeing that they were going to have Detroit produce their airplanes. So Detroit said, alright Air Force, you’ve got to have some bombers and fighters, we all know that. And so we want you to design the most modern fighter absolutely go way out, and the most modern bomber and so forth, and then we’re going to tool it up.
Now, one of the things I learned in Detroit, in doing the Chrysler Company story, really a very astonishingly important matter. When they, then, do go through all these enormous getting ready of a car with the checks and balances of these people who do have to be satisfied, I say, whether it’s the sales departments or the banks so many people involved, finally you get to where you say, “This is the way the car is going to be.” So there has to be an absolute cut-off, and now we are going to really tool and the tooling is very, very expensive. So after tooling up, they, incidentally, Detroit allows three years after the design is finished before they produce, so that their cars are always way behind the times by the time they come out, because evolution is much more rapid than that today. At any rate, they had if a car comes out, and something begins to go wrong people find something wrong in it, and they say so then to the distributors they did everything to get the distributor some kind of way he can modify and make the thing alright, but if they found that it really couldn’t be done, they really then had to change the production. The Chrysler Company, and all the other automobile companies, had a set of scarlet stationery, and nobody wanted to see that scarlet stationery get out the scarlet stationery called a change order, a change order and they ring bells everywhere, and they fire 10,000 people, literally, there is just an explosion in the automobile game a change order. As I said, everything is done on the scarlet stationery, and so everybody just fears this thing. It is one of the things they breed them they must absolutely fear any change order it must be so thorough before it is done. So, and we learned that, about, because in the end they didn’t want any overtime you know overtime costs much too much money, so it’s going to take three years to tool up because you must never have one second of overtime, and they do nothing, really, looking out for labor. So, when I then began to combine my experience in what I knew about Chrysler and so forth, and with my own automobile development and getting into the aircraft plants and so forth, and their production needs. I can then tell you a set of events that took place that were very important.
America, then, didn’t come into the war right away, but by the time they came in the English and the Germans had been battling for several years, and everything was “who has the air control?” Which was the bombing control of because you couldn’t get back if you bombed you could bomb all the production capabilities of the other side, so this air supremacy was the very essence. And the English and the Germans fighting each other saw that if you changed the design a little bit like this, then you could get a little better, so the experience was lethal, but also taught them how to design so both in Germany and in England, design began to really change in a hurry. And they had to develop, really, new tools. One of the things that happened was that Germany and England both realized that you’d better deploy your factories I’m telling you more or less as a side thing here, but I’ll come back to the Germans and English deploying their factories but one of the things I learned on the Board of Economic Warfare, because I studied photographs, and photographs and reports photograph after photograph and reports on the bombings of great industrial manufacturing plants.
The walls were an absolute mess just ruined them, and they tumbled down all over everything. You get them cleaned up and then the machinery was usually in very, very good shape. The machinery is not so destructible, but what you simply hurt was the building, so they cleaned the rubbish away, and moved the machinery and put it out in barns, and then they deployed all their operation, so they got little farming families to work at night with the lights all obscured, and they built out in this barn running the punch press. And they had trucks then go round and pick up this and pick up that, and then they had assembly plants. Well you could move the assembly plants pretty rapidly. You had an assembly line under any kind of a barn, some sort of a big building, and you could move that around so anybody wouldn’t really know where you were, where you were producing it. Deployment by subcontracting became absolutely fundamental in production, and particularly in that airplane game.
Now, but the big thing was the invention by the Germans and the English of tools that you could make quick changes. They kept inventing ways to change a design rather than producing them exactly the way that they had been, because I said to you, in the great fundamentals of economics and there had been the steel maker who said “the more it rusts, the more I like we don’t change” I’ll tell you in the great corporations of the world, up to the time of W.W.II, any executive said “We’d like to make a change here, would get fired.” The only company where you could do it was Henry Ford’s, and he’s the one who made the changes. And he loved it, and someone would give him a good idea, he really went after it. But the other companies, no, because you wanted to make money, you didn’t want to be spending all your money on all these changes. So this was an anathema in the idea of making money, but essential if you really are going to get somewhere that there would be change. So this freeze up of the Chrysler Company and all the other companies that change order being an anathema, was typical really of sort of a death point of a service to humanity.
Now, so, I said, it brought about all kinds of changes, the deployment of the manufacturing, and they then began to develop the most extraordinary trucks because you are going to have a section of a wing, and this wing could get so all readily hurt. And so then the trucks had there was jig shipping. You didn’t have to put the beautiful wing piece in a heavy crate. All shipping up to this time had been there was a great shipping art, anybody who produced any machinery had to learn how you put it together so that it’s not going to be hurt while it is being shipped. But suddenly then, designed the trucks themselves, this truck did nothing but carry that airplane wing, it was a beautiful jig shipping that things came into and took care of the loads in exactly the way you could tell, even on the bumpiest road it didn’t put that thing into any jeopardy at all, so jig shipping it is called.
Now, there are two things that I speak about, and I’m going to get into a sort of evolution of things that go on here that are very, very important which I think you will find very exciting. The Congress had been persuaded by the same kind of nonsense as that book that I had to write for Chrysler, and they used enormous propaganda, I think they got 125,000 copies distributed right away, and this got then the Congress to make the Air Force give the orders to Detroit. And, I said, Detroit had gotten then, the Air Force had to get out this design of the bomber and this kind of a fighter. So, they tooled up for it, and the kind of planes, then, that the United States was making, to go to Europe to go for our armed forces, that we were then training our armed forces and so forth, and we were going to have to fly these things in Europe. So much was being learned by the Germans and the English in the evolution of the plane was so very rapid, that these planes that were being made in the United States became absolutely obsolete. So they developed in America Detroit would say “we’ll take care of that, we’ll just have a modification line,” so they’d build a second production line and the minute that plane was finished, they brought it up to the head of the production line and it got all rebuilt again. Then by the time they got to England they still were out of date, so in England they set up a new production, the re-modification plant again. And then by the time they literally got into the war, when the Americans came then and did their first bombing strikes and so forth, so many planes were lost that it was absolutely lethal to fly the damn things. And so Detroit said, “that’s alright we’re just going to we absolutely out-produce those people anyway, so planes are going to get lost, so we’ll just out-produce them. Well, at this point, American mothers began to get to the American Congressmen and said “We can’t out-produce the kids.”
And the Congress, then, suddenly began to become really alarmed at the rate of the killings, and if we were not really ending this there was going to be incredible slaughter. So they simply said to the Air Force, well what should we do. We have been forcing you all the time. So the Air Force said, they found that the contracts had been made the lawyers and people who had worked to get all these contracts for Detroit, there were so many contracts that were so absolutely unbreakable, and all the lawyers by this time were busy on other kinds of war problems, nobody could undo them, so they just simply let Detroit keep manufacturing this junk, and about a quarter of the Air Force, it was said, just to fly them out to the Kansas fields and let them stand there. Get rid of them get them out of the way.
So what the Air Force said, is “We’ll move west of the Mississippi all of this was east of the Mississippi. We’ll move west of the Mississippi, and they went to where the airplane world had been anyway, where it had been moving to, and so there was Oklahoma, and particularly Wichita, Kansas. And Wichita, Kansas had fourteen aircraft plants, and had them there for a very long time, and they had fourteen air fields. And so they were well known names like Beech and Cessna and so forth, and the Boeing Number Two was there and so forth. So Boeing Number Two got the contract for the new B-29, which really, you had to forget everything, and get something new and get it out in a hurry.
During the design and building of the B-29, the first 100 B-29s that were flown, engineers, scientists and everybody working on them, one million change orders were written, between number one and number 100. One million change orders were written! This was quite a change in industry where you can have a million change orders against one and you’re going to fire everybody. This was a very abrupt thing, so that everything that we had inherited, the British were finally able to get America to come in, we were able to inherit an enormous amount of information on the information the intelligence information, what the tools were that the German’s were using, and what the English were able to tell us themselves. So that what we did was, at that point, industry was designed to accommodate change. This is a fantastically important point, economically. I know, our American society doesn’t know it, World decided it. You really have to be in there in that kind of a game to realize, and also to be as old as I was, to see complete change. Now I saw that change starting, and all these things I am talking about are DESIGN SCIENCE. I saw this changing when I came into Phelps Dodge as Assistant Director in the Research Department after finishing doing my cars. After I finished doing the cars in Bridgeport, I then wrote Nine Chains to the Moon and I was still writing Nine Chains to the Moon when I went into the Phelps Dodge as Assistant Director of Research. I had mentioned to you that in W.W.I, was the first World War, because in dealing with these metals rather than in the vegetation. It was a very different world, and it was to do then with the alloys and particularly then, inanimate energy, waterfalls and so forth, and the ability to generate power and to bring it from here to there by copper. And I mentioned several times now that in one year, 1917, we produced, mined, and refined and put to work more copper in one year than cumulatively had been produced by all of humanity in the whole history of man before. So that copper then being produced this way was very highly feasible due to two inventions that had occurred just before W.W.I. One was FLOTATION and the other one was ELECTROLYTIC REFINING OF COPPER. Flotation made it possible to very quickly refine, and the refining then by electrolysis and depositing the pure copper over here, very great but you had to have a lot of energy for it obviously.
These reduced the costs of copper production incredibly, to such an extent, it happens that copper and gold and silver tend to co-occur, and sometimes in the early times you didn’t know if you had a copper mine, or a gold mine, or a silver mine. But the amount of copper and silver is very much less plentiful than is the amount of the gold and silver, but it is usually there, so the copper companies are also in the gold and silver business, and so Phelps Dodge had a very important gold business, and they found that at the time of W.W.I, I say, then found the cost of production had been so low by electrolytic of refining and by flotation, that what the Phelps Dodge, and the other company big copper companies were getting for gold as they sold it to the government for mints. The price of the gold paid for the complete mining and refining of copper. So they wouldn’t take it out of the ground unless they were going to get a lot of money for it. This was absolutely free to take it out, refine it and sell it. Boy, this is a great one to find. That relatively small amount, so they kept taking the gold out and have your copper is there, but take your copper out when you’re going to make money. And war time is when you make money. So when that war did come on they really did want to take it out, and they could, as I said, because they had these new production capabilities. But, the copper companies like everybody else, had also made a few types of parts that is wire, pipe and so forth, and they sold and sheet and they sold to fabricators. So that the big sales of copper in America also involved the people who fabricated it into the real use forms of society.
Copper companies like really to just sell wire bar, and they bought the wire bar and made the wire out of it and so forth, so that, in order to step up their production so that they can keep up with incredible sales that the government then gave them, the enormous, demand to run that kind of a war the copper companies found that they couldn’t meet the demand unless, so they bought in all their customers who have all this sheet and all the metal workers of wire bar, Habershire Wire, and many very famous names, they were all bought up by the main copper companies, became branches of the big copper companies so that they could control the production tools and get the stuff out.
With this then, in order to make such a big deal in such a hurry, they had to make a good deal for the President of the fabricator who they were buying up, so they said, I’m going to keep you on, you can be an officer of the company, big salary, just fine, o.k. So you will just be in the sales department. Well, we had, I have given you then, also up to the Great Crash which I have talked to you about, and then the laying down of the hands of the banks finally they just simply had been loaning people’s deposits, they didn’t have it wasn’t their money at all. We also then find the great power of J.P. Morgan. And J.P. Morgan had, and everything that was really big in America, there were all the prime contracts of every kind, like whether it was General Motors or U.S. Steel, they had two or three members on the Board and they were absolutely able to control all of those companies. They ran the whole thing as one great big show. This was very much interrupted by SEC and so the banking monies could not go in, as I said all kinds of those divisions were made.
But, then it meant then, that at the time I came into Phelps Dodge, this was in 1936, and it was three years after the New Deal is going, and things are now in a different kind of a stage here, so that I found that the Phelps Dodge copper products which then represented all the amalgamation of the manufacturers who they bought in. They ran it separately from their mining company. Phelps Dodge Mining and Phelps Dodge Copper Products. And the salesmen-managers of that company, now you were in the Depression and one of the big things was to sell copper, so the salesman found that it was his market, and the President of the company was a mining man, a mining engineer, very fine man incidentally, and Louis Case, and he is the one who had the Research Department take me on to make studies make forward studies of the industrialization of the World to see what part that copper would be playing in the future years. Because they decided I had that kind of capability.
And, we have then, what I began to see were some very fascinating things because I went really plunged into the history of copper. Went back to every monograph The Bureau of Mines anything I could find out, the whole history of copper. I found historically how there had been a time when Spain was the greatest copper miner and so forth, and it played a great deal in the fastenings of their ships and whatever it might be, and how all the copper that had ever been produced by man, it was expensive, it was used functionally because it was plentiful enough to be used functionally; but the minute they could get a substitute for it they always put it in, if something could cost less. So they began to learn then to get steel, that is a use a any kind of steel fastener where you could find some way to keep it from rusting, then it would take the place of the copper. So I found that copper had been in ships of the early great big ships, that were really able to go around the world, copper played a very big part, and as fast as they could get less expensive metals to put in they continually took out the copper. Copper was used, because you could also melt it up under the annealing condition I spoke to you about was, it had all kinds of uses, and countries that were going to go to war always found they needed copper. And one of the great tricks historically, of copper was to put copper into bronze great statues of the heroes, and the kings. This was a way in which a country could start importing copper without anyone really realizing it. They were just putting up statues of famous people. So it was part of the great war strategy game to have a lot of statues that could be melted up when the war came.
Now, the, what I found was, in Phelps Dodge, the Sales Department beginning to annoying the mining group, and they were sort of taking things over because they needed to make sales, and sales were being very difficult because something was happening that bothered everybody and it had never been in the copper industry before. There was scrap copper around, obviously there was enormous production in W.W.I, you should expect some scrap around, but it had always been assumed that scrap was something that you just had for a little while, and then you used it up, and that was the end of that. There was very much the attitude there was in the Club of Rome Report, the Meadows Report on the limits of growth and so forth a couple of years ago, where I found that the economists who did that report were not metallurgists, they didn’t know anything about their mining world or production engineering, and they were assuming that the metals were something that gets consumed, just like strawberries. And if you had taken it out of the mines, that is all there is now, it’s just disappeared. They looked at things in just that kind of way.
I found that wasn’t what went on at all. These metals do get melted out and recirculated, melt it all down and recirculate it. So even the time that I was in there, I suddenly found that 84% of all the copper in the world that had ever been mined was still in use, we knew where it was, it had been melted out time and again from this use and put into another. And it had drifted from making possible the Marine building, it had drifted out of there and then got into the railroading, because there were a lot of things, you didn’t want anything to rust, it would be very dangerous, the coupling of those cars and so forth, so a great deal was done in brass. Then as fast as they could afford to they substituted steel, and the copper was melted out of there, and then it came into this extraordinary new telephone game in electronics in a very big way. And so, it was majoring in the electrical world.
Anyway, the conditions I have said, scrap was beginning to bother the and so the people who owned mines and were only going to take copper out of the mines when they could make money out of it, found that people were selling scrap out there instead. So they no longer they didn’t monopolize the copper market at all, so their monopoly was broken, and this was very, of great concern to them. So everybody is worried about scrap I found, and nobody seemed to know what to say about it, so I made some studies for them, and I really went exhaustively into what I am saying, because what I did, then, because I am a mechanic I really got into the different classes of manufacture different classes of goods altogether, and I found And incidentally, the metals records, I assure you are very extraordinary. There is so much money is involved, that the numbers of agencies that are reporting accurately on metals down in Wall Street are incredible. And so there are a number of associations, and so what is it, The Iron-Steel Institute or whatever it may be, superb reporting. So I got into all that alright, and I was able then to get into something I could speak about as lags.
There is, then, a lag gestation rate, you’re familiar with that in human beings, there is no instant baby, so it is nine months for human beings to make a baby. I found that in the electronics world, there was approximately a two-year lag between invention and use. That in the airplane world there is a five-year lag. In the electronics it runs only two years because it was sub-visible, and it was only carried on, you could find out what was better mathematically, and with the mathematics you didn’t doubt it at all you’d put in a better way. That was one of those again the way things move in that invisible world. So the, they have in the airplane, you need it very badly because they are very dangerous art, but you don’t put it in until you’re really sure it works so there is a five year lag. I found there was a ten-year lag in automobiles between a good invention and it’s being used by industry. It turned out to be a fifteen year lag in railroading, it turned out to be a twenty-five year lag in relation to big buildings in the city, and about a forty-five year to fifty year lag in single-family dwelling.
To give you a little idea in the building industry of the very slowness, the part of the development of production steel, was then you had to have a lot of blast furnaces, you had to have all kinds of ceramics, and Portland Cement, the production of Portland Cement became a by-product of producing steel, using some of the by-products. So that we have the Atlas Portland Cement and these things starting, all along side of the steel companies. It was an amazing thing it was fifty years excuse me forty-five years between the steel company making Portland Cement and a piece of steel dropping into the cement, and using reinforced concrete! That is typical of how long you can avoid the obvious in an art. This is the building world. Everybody knew all the building codes were just compression and all of this, and nobody understood how that reinforcing worked until the days the Harvard Stadium is the first big building built with reinforced concrete. It is a very new art. It didn’t come into small buildings and dwellings until I brought it in with that stockade system that I talked to you about in 1922 when I was introducing reinforced concrete columns and so forth into small buildings. It just was not in there at all.
Now, I just want to understand lags. I took the different lags of the different basic manufacturings of the world. Then I went into the records to find out how much copper is really in the building industry? Enormous amounts used to be in it, and they still are, if you’ll look at the old buildings you’ll see those green roofs on the buildings around here. That is bronze roofing, because they really, while building it, if they built it right, and this is not going to rust. So there are enormous amounts of bronze, and the well-built building had brass and copper plumbing and so forth, so I got into exactly how much of copper was in buildings. How much copper was in automobiles. At that time 30 pounds per automobile. It was so expensive they kept down every ounce of it they could. And, so I had all the copper in all the different arts, and how much was out on the ships and so forth. I did find that, in taking this lag, I was able then to find out, where copper really is on inventory, and how long it was going to be before it came out. What I did was to consolidate all of those, integrate the total inventory of all copper and different lags that it was going to come out, and found the average would be, the largest tonnage would come out every 22 years 22 l/2 years, so with that key, I then began looking at the amount of scrap that was beginning to show up in the ’30’s. Which was really a very new thing on the which nobody knew how to explain, but I found also in keeping track of production of copper, they keep very carefully, scrap is a very secondary metal, very carefully scrapped away from new, newly mined. You knew just what you have.
I found then that newly mined copper of 22 l/2 years ago, it was exactly the height of my scrap, and there was enough of those to say that it looks like it is really so. This is in l936 at Phelps Dodge, and I said to Phelps Dodge, I’m quite certain I have a finding here, and W.W.I was l9l7. We have on the chart of copper production, historically, nothing like this a cliff going up like that. So I’m going to add 22 l/2 years to 1917 and I get July of l939. So in 1936 I said that in July of 1939, you’re going to be overwhelmed by scrap. By that time, I left Phelps Dodge in 1938 and went to FORTUNE, so I was on in July of l939 the Director of Research at Phelps Dodge called me up and said “Bucky, you are absolutely on, it’s happened!” And the, at that time if you went in New York, or if you’d have been even in Philadelphia here where there are docks, and docks where shipping was very much more of a matter than it is today, the docks of New York, great docks there were ships, but there were enormous filled with “lighters” that were going to load the ships, and all these great enormous wood “lighters” and steel “lighters” were just piled high with scrap. Every dock in New York was lighters full of scrap, because not only does copper do this, but steel follows the pattern of copper, so your copper is the bell weather, they say, you find out where the copper is going to go and the steel will go that way and so forth. The steel scrap was there in equal quantities.
America was just being overwhelmed with scrap metal. And the reason they were down there at the docks was that they saw W.W.II was looming, and the metals industry makes enormous money when the war is on, so they wanted to get this scrap out of the way, then, and the metals companies in America sold all the scrap to Germany and Japan to develop their armors which they fired back at us fairly immoral thing to do but that was what was going on there, and on account of it getting out of the country, it did not even get into the economic arguments of W.W.II. It does not really begin to show up, just now I am finding that what I found back in the 30’s, and we confirmed absolutely when something just beginning people beginning to realize, with all the discussion about ecology and recirculation, this is something I learned way back there.
First let me tell you that the 15% of copper or it is 16% that we don’t know where it is rather that is not in continuous circulation, we know just where it is, we know where the munitions ships are in, and that will be brought up in due course, and that will be put to work. In due course we will use these metals. Now every time this metals comes around every 22 years, the interim know-how is so great, you melt it up and you load it up with know-how. You melt it up, load it up with much more know-how. So every time it comes around you have much higher performance for the same amount of pounds. Now you don’t have to get into this very deeply to realize, when I begin to talk about capabilities of taking care of everybody, they are predicated on my knowledge of the rates which these metals are coming around, so that I say
Now I go back to Phelps Dodge, and then my giving them this thing about scrap. They didn’t know I was going to be right or wrong at the time that I gave it to them. But the thing that was exciting was that the sales department realized that there were no longer the J.P. Morgan Directors on the Board. Management in general in America was freed by the SEC and the government coming in and purging the banks out of them. The Management, itself, said “You know we were always appointed by J.P. Morgan.” J.P. Morgan controlled the Board of Directors, the Board of Directors elected the Officers, but the Officers of the Company said “There is nobody here to say anything about this. J.P. Morgan isn’t here any more. There’s nobody bothering us.” So, they had to become self-perpetuating. This is a complete new change in America. It became a new the finance capitalism died, but there was a new kind of capitalism, which was Management Capitalism. And I find this is not particularly well known, and these are things that are very important to understand from a DESIGN SCIENCE viewpoint.
So the next thing, about the Management Capitalist System, they said “We don’t care whether the…” these men were handling their sales, they had their own machinery, they were the manufacturers of copper products. They said, “We don’t care whether it’s scrap or not, it’s pure copper.” And a lot of people think that scrap means it is not pure copper. It is absolutely pure copper there is nothing wrong with it at all. Just disassociates as a pure element, and so they said “We don’t care if it’s coming out of scrap. We make our money by every time the wheels go around and we’re making a product we are turning pipe and wire, we want the wheels to go round.” And so they said, the more inventions that come along, the more changes, the more our wheels go around.
This is this new Management Capitalism realized that change was desirable. And I assure you, since W.W.II, with the two things I gave you about that the whole thing was organized to accommodate change and the new management making its money out of change, suddenly the new management came out of business schools, so if you went into a corporation, and if you couldn’t get a change in pretty soon, you weren’t going to be a Vice President, I assure you. So I saw an absolute change in the whole world when the money making itself began to vote for change. Now this turns out to be healthier than they know, because again I find, everybody is so specialized, the corporations do not realize the big patterns I am giving you. They don’t realize that we are going to have more and more of that metal, until we’ll get to the point where we don’t have to do any more mining. I assure you. In fact, we have already mined so much, that there are some metals we are learning to use, like Boron, we didn’t know what high tensile strength it had. There are a few scarce metals like that, but by and large, I simply say to you, the iron, and the copper and the aluminum we are practically at a point where we don’t have to do anymore mining, because every time it’s coming around we’re getting so much higher performance, we’re going to be able to take care of all humanity, and all the children to come, and at very, very high standards.
O.K. I hope you feel also, all of the time you are with me, a sense of a personal responsibility and experience of being allowed to get to such information. I have been incredibly lucky through the years, being in the Navy and the boys that I went to school with and so forth. Knowing the Morgans and knowing very, very powerful people. And I don’t like, I’ll never be treacherous to friends or so forth, I can’t talk this kind of way, really this is such past history, that it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference, but I really did know, I was taken down by the President of the Bank, the Old New York Trust Company, to meet the officers of J.P. Morgan as a kid when I was doing very well in Armour and Company and so forth they saw this bright young man. So I really do know pretty well the ways that decision do get to be made, and I’ve been in where as a young man, a young salesman being pushed to go over here and do this and do that, and seeing how things really work. So, it’s time for a break. We’re at 8:30 and I’ve talked a little longer than usual. We’ve done two hours now, and I’m going to come back and we’re going to get into you’re going to look at things going on in Beech Aircraft, and I’m sure your eyes, having heard what I’ve been talking about will be different. I’m sure as we talk this kind of way, you can’t look at things as you did yesterday or before. You are going to really see things or feel them in new ways. Thank you.
I’m going to recite you a little short verse and the verse we know was written by a little old lady in England about a couple of hundred years ago.
If all good people were clever,
And all clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever
We thought it possibly could.
But somehow, ’tis seldom or never
That the two hit it off as they should;
For the good are so harsh to the clever,
And the clever so rude to the good.
I’m just saying that because I think that real life is somewhere between these two. My grandson was about three and he was driving with me on the freeway in Los Angeles, we were going along about 65 that you are going there, and he was standing in the front of the car with me as I am driving, and he was sort of fooling around with the instruments and so forth, and I was afraid that he’d do something to make things go wrong while with that speed is not a very good time to be fooling around. So, I’d been suggesting that he not do that, and he kept at it, so I said “Jaime do you want to be a naughty boy?” he said “NO!” And I said, “Do you want to be a good boy?” and he said “Newww!” (Everybody really chuckled)
I think that’s the way I’ve felt through my whole life really. And somebody asked me in the interim how I was so lucky to get such good jobs in my life, and I think it’s these really were not jobs in the sense, they were when I was on FORTUNE because the Managing Editor wanted me to come there, he wanted to have somebody try to make clear to the FORTUNE tycoon readers some of the emphasize the scientific background they were sort of getting too boastful about how clever they were in making money. He wanted me to do something about that. Russell was a poet himself and a very beautiful Russell Davenport was his name. So he wanted me to come onto FORTUNE and Henry Luce liked the idea. I’d known Henry for quite a long time, and at any rate, we tried it out, but I went there for a purpose, it wasn’t in a sense, a job.
So, the things that I’ve had to do, I certainly am absolutely convinced that there is nothing that you can be asked to do that isn’t interesting. In other words, I don’t really have inferior jobs, and so forth. I find life is just fascinating from any viewpoint. So whether you are the plumbers helper, and whether you are learning how you wipe a joint or things it’s just great. Now, but also, there is a wonderful fun in life, and that human beings are human beings and there are the temptations the human thing is very much in that somewhere between the good and the clever, but it isn’t either not my kind of life.
I’m going to go on now, having talked a whole lot about these metals and the DESIGN SCIENCE requirements of understanding some big patterns and to tell you a little more about it, that immediately at the end of W.W.I, and the big aircraft companies didn’t know as I said to you the other day, that they were going to have jets to produce. And everyone was looking around for things that they could do, and I told you about a meeting with the people who made the General Panel, but I also the house that we developed in Beech Aircraft became very interesting to a number of the bigger aircraft companies, and young Donald Douglas, who was the producer of the famous DC-3 and other DC’s before they amalgamated with MacDonald Aircraft. I had a wonderful talk with Donald Douglas at the end of W.W.I, and they were interested in the possibility that Douglas Aircraft might produce the Wichita House which I am going to show you in a few minutes. Which had been produced at Beech Aircraft.
Donald Douglas, then, told me, in relation to the things I’ve said to you about all those metals that were in great waste in the aircraft industries enormous amounts of materials that had to be either sent back, or some how or other, sold. In the aircraft industry, I want you to understand there are really two very different kinds of engineers. There are design engineers, and design engineers then do design the airplane to start off with, and the design engineers do structural analysis and they know just exactly the right what strength that part has to have, all that is beautifully done. When the design engineering was over at the time of W.W.II, then they were going to have to get into production, and they had what was called then Production Engineering, and Production Engineering then began to look over the parts that had been designed by the design engineers and figure out how you were going to make those parts, and they found out time and again that the designer of the part really had no knowledge at all of tools, didn’t really know this he only knew that the center of that metal was stronger than the edges, and things like that he followed those kinds of rules. But the production engineer was deeply familiar with all the fundamentals of production, how many kinds of tools are there? And he could see, because the production engineers are always graduated from being design engineers, so they understand how the design is made by the design engineer, alright, but they really realize then the production of it that part could be changed and you could still do exactly what it had been designed to do, but it can be designed a little differently to do the same function, and then it could be easy to manufacture with this kind of tool, that kind of tool.
And so, Donald Douglas said, “I’m never going to have any design engineers ever again, who are not already production engineers. Because I think it is absolutely incredibly stupid to have to do what we did during the War and having all those waste materials ” he said.
As a consequence on that attitude on the part of great manufacturers like Donald Douglas, a very big change has really occurred in the aerospace industry incredible one, and the change that has come about there is the following. We learned so very much more about alloys since that time. Alloys were being discovered accidentally in the world of metallurgy when I was at Phelps Dodge. The scientists were not looking for new alloys, but they gradually began to learn so much more about the metallurgy itself, really learning your 18 and 8 is a very important kind of number showing up in the stainless steel. 18 and 8 these are proportions of the chromium and the nickel being added to the steel, and these numbers you can’t just make it a little chromium, make it 19 and 8 it doesn’t work. These numbers have something to do with the kind of geometry I have been showing you. They began to realize this more and more, that there were only certain phases in which things would associate in the right way so that instead of them looking for, just letting it happen accidentally, they began to really learn where the periodicity occur, what kind of numbers would be showing up and began to be able to actually design some alloys. This came in with the space technology and the re-entry problems. They suddenly had to have materials that would do what no materials they knew of could ever do. The kind of heats you were going to come to there was problem after problem, but there was absolutely nothing known that could get to those limits.
So, then, they began to literally design, by going back to the chemistries and so forth, seeing what might possibly in some of these curves get there, and they began sort of literally designing the right metals getting the right numbers.
Well, this was a very great advance it its own right. So then they began to realize, as you got into these rarer and rarer metals, there was no point in trying to make wire bar, and trying to make angle irons and so forth nobody is ever going to use angle irons out of titanium or whatever it may be, we’ll just say. So that they began, then, to do something fascinating. They began developing a set of tools where they would make the end product instantly with the tool. They would make just enough of that alloy, and in it’s molten state whatever it was it would go into the end shape instantly. Now this was very not being cut out of any kind of way this is quite a transition from the exploitation of the mine you had to have something to exploit so you could get out some shapes that people are going to buy, to really, then, going after doing the right thing for the right reason. Because you get in that space technology, the aerospace technology, and as far as the aircraft engineer goes, that designs that airplane, he’s not interested in making money whatsoever. All he wants is that that airplane is absolutely safe, can fly and do the most with the least. It is a self-policing kind of an activity.
And so, I found that this new one of making the exact learning so much about production, learning so much about behaviors of atoms, really learning then how we could make tools so you could make the end product in, approximately, just one having no waste whatsoever. You might have to machine it some more from there on, as you got to the right form, but we get into all kinds of things like impact extrusion you get a shape where you have a metal and it’s in the container the right shape, and you just hit it so hard that the thing just extrudes into the sides, into the right shape. There are all kinds of new techniques that came along in production engineering.
Now, in relation to what I’ve been telling you about before. The going from the very stupid kind of a viewpoint of tooling up years ahead the Detroit world to make money, into the airplane world where they were doing things right, because the thing was to make the plane fly, and have the man come home. The thing that came in there that made possible swift tooling, was the phenomena, tin. Did I go through tin history with you before? I don’t think so.
I did mention to you that the oldest known history of any metal is the tin history kept by the Phoenicians, and how this became, the whole the great Roman Empire going to England and there was very much to that Roman world that I learn as I go to England more and more, I realize how really long the Roman World went on in England. It is a very extraordinary matter. And, it wasn’t just an invasion at all, I mean it was really a way of life there for a long, great, great number of generations. At any rate, the tin got exhausted in England because everybody identified England with tin, the English, then, represented the best kind of an unsinkable flagship for the reconditioning of ships in the great runs, who came really then, one of the ships who went out of England began to discover that there was a lot of tin in the Malay straits. There still is it is one of the great tin sources today. Later on tin is discovered in Bolivia and much later in Tanganyika. Those are the main places of tin today around the world. There are not very many of them. There is none within the United States, neither in Alaska nor in the United States proper. There is some tin in Mexico and the Mexicans make quite a little with tin. Tin is equally expensive as silver, but you’ll find quite a little tin work in Mexico.
Tin had a very extraordinary history. First, as men, then, discovered the water wheel, and they then learning that they could possibly get to use from the spinning wheels that the women had developed, and just the thread making and then getting into weaving and so forth. They got to where they could manufacture they could really set up machinery to do that and you could get the spindles going around and you could do all kinds of tricks with developing the cotton thread, and so forth. So, we have, using the water wheel, and you can make a water fall very readily as the miller learned to do, and then they found that with the great big driving wheel, fastened to the water wheel, then they could have a strap, a belt go up into the factory to another enormous wheel a good wide field pulley which the strap then, the friction of it, made it drive it alright. Then these were connected, they brought power into your building, and then they had shafts shaft hangars all running around those factories, and overhead shafts going everywhere with pulleys on them, and they’re all going around. And all being driven from the water power. Then they placed the machines on the different floors of the factory, below the shafting and, from the pulley up above that machine they then have strapping coming down to a driving pulley on the machine. And they had ways then of getting a double pulley so you had a rod control. You could move the belt off or on to the drive pulley, so you could shut off your machine when you wanted to.
At any rate, the old factory buildings began to, you know, the foundations would change, they would sag, and for one reason or another the shafting would get out of alignment. The bearings for all the shafting in all those mills went through a box, and inside that box was what was called babbit metal, but it was tin, and tin has a very low melting point, so that when the bearing begins to give and really scrape and so forth, instead of tearing your drive shaft, it simply would melt, really sort of like running in butter, and it worked pretty well. So that tin made possible getting the wheels going of production of man. A very big part. This was going on in, my first job as I got out of Harvard, my first was a cotton mill where I was learning to be a millwright and a machine fitter, they call it, the English called it, and I learned then to get up each type of these machines, and I’m deeply familiar then with the functions of tin. Tin had a lot of other very nice functions of soldering, being able to make lamp shades out of wire, all kinds of things people could put together with the solder low melting point.
Then it got to be very important with electronics because you had to solder there to make a really good connection so it wouldn’t oxidize. And we have then, tin, everybody was pretty familiar with what that tin was, and tin, it was found, could be flowed very thinly on the surface of thin sheet steel. So tin cans came in, and tin cans made possible preserving the foods, hermetically sealed. And this is, again, just a W.W.I kind of thing, and we had suddenly foods that used to rot were suddenly reaching people at any distance away very extraordinary new capability of man. This began to take people away from the farms, and tin had many, many very powerful functions in changing the pattern of man on our planet.
But then I ask engineers today if anybody can tell me where tin is, and I ask you for instance. Are any of you familiar where tin is? What is tin being used for right now? And I find, approximately none of them know. And I find it is a very fascinating matter then, that after W.W.I, ball bearings came along and so much better than these babbit metals, it came right out, and then we learned how to put individual electric motors onto each machine with these ball bearings, so tin was absolutely not wanted any more. In that game. Then we began to learn all other kinds of tricks, there were plastic coatings you could put on the metal cheaper than the tin. Tin was an expensive metal. So that we stopped tinning bathtubs and all of those kinds of things that used to go on, and we suddenly, where did the tin go to?
I said there are no tin mines in America in the United States only in Mexico, and they are very small ones, they are not worth really talking about. And, what happened was, that during W.W.II what the Germans and English both learned, was that a way you could make quick changes in design, particularly in wing forms and things like that, and fuselages great big parts that needed to be done in a hurry, we have something called a drop hammer, and a drop hammer is almost like a guillotine, but the man can control, have it lift really quite rapidly and come down, pounding, pounding, pounding on the lower mandrel.
We have then a material which is called kirksite for the inventor, and kirksite is primarily tin. And tin has such a low melting point that it is very easy, if you want some you can get it with very little heat in a little time and you’ve got it melted for you. And what happened was that when they designed a new part for the wing form, then the designing engineer got in his pattern man, and the pattern man, and many really, men, craftsmen like sculptors, they could make a clay model very quickly just a really beautiful form, put a caliper on it just right. Then they made a quick plaster cast, and from the plaster cast they then made this kirksite casting where you make a bronze and so forth. And they made only the female form, and then they made the male form by casting it into the female. But then the female being made they then could also change the design and smooth it up because tin you can scrape it really readily, it is easier to scrape than wood, and it held it’s shape so beautifully, so you could dress it lovely, and you could get the female all dressed up very fast, and then cast the male in it with a potting compound and you suddenly had, within three or four hours after engineers had finished the design, you could have these dies made, and they might be the size of this table big things. And the big drop hammers were quite wide, staunch, so you could get something big in there so there was the male, and they put in the aluminum and the drop hammer man learned to he was a hammer man before, and he learns how you can move it just a little in there, and it takes a few passings like that and suddenly there is your shape all nice and dressed-out. The tin being soft enough to help a lot of those atoms to really spread themselves. Such a tool is good for about 100 parts and then it’s all through, you have to make it over again, so this is called soft tooling.
At any rate, this kirksite then did make possible swift change in the design of the aeronautical parts the ships skins, and really other parts but primarily that. As a consequence, I’ll tell you that the largest tin mines in the world today are out back of the airplane plants of America. If you go find any one, say like Burbank, and Lockheed you’ll think it’s sort of a graveyard out there, these forms like gravestones, sort of strange forms and things like that. These great hunks of tin and they can be melted up just like that. So it’s a wonder to me this is a most beautiful picture of the new world, a country that has no tin mines, the largest mine in the world is above grade ready to be melted right up, and makes possible change, swift change. See what powerful things I’m really telling you so when we have just economists looking at world things as the Club of Rome not understanding anything I’m saying to you. And not understanding. There is no book, no paragraph, or sentence in a book of economics about doing more with less. So it has been held, really, as a classified way of looking at things. Economists mustn’t talk about that. The politicians want the fact, the economists wouldn’t know what it is talking about anyway. He doesn’t have really any sense about these metals and performance and efficiencies.
So the economist just looks at the last tool that ever made that thing, that’s what it is, and he starts from there and it is always going to take that much.
Now, I hope I’ve really said enough about evolution in design so that design engineering, I’ll tell you things are very different again from what they were, what Donald Douglas did there. So this shift is going on very, very rapidly and to be really competent in playing World Game you have to be really deeply aware of all this kind of facility.
I developed something else which is going to be appropriate to talking about the Wichita House, and the other one which will come up next. That is, back in my beginning with the Dymaxion House, I started something I called the Universal Requirements of A Dwelling Advantage or a Shelter Advantage. And this Universal Requirements of a Dwelling where I said, I’m going to have to think about, I’m going to try to do something on behalf of human beings, giving them some controls of their life, so we are talking about an environment control. I said “Environment” later on, a few years ago, I did this with Sonny Applewhite, I wrote a little poem about it, but this is the way I looked at it back in 1927. “Environment to each must be, all it is excepting me. Universe in turn must be, all it is, including me.” The only difference between “environment” and “Universe” is me, the observer. And environment this Universe is all in motion. It’s all utterly dynamic, there are no things, physicists have found no things, they have found only events, in pure principle. So all of the environment is a set of events, of different frequencies and magnitudes.
I saw, then, that all, everything that can happen to you that I’m going to try to be competent in designing on your behalf, I would like to be comprehensive anticipatory on your behalf, the needs you are going to have, you are very innocent and young, and so forth, I just want to be sure that I can turn the experience of others through history to your advantage without in anyway impeding you. What can I do on the behalf of my fellow man without trespassing on them. That has to be very important. So, I said, I’ll get that out of the way and then I’ll come back to these environmental events. I said, if I suddenly jumped up and ran over and grabbed you like that and you said, ‘What are you doing?’ I saw that a piece of the ceiling was falling and I didn’t have time to put my words I just ran and grabbed you and it just goes WHAAM, and boy!, obviously if I hadn’t pulled you, and I really didn’t have time to get my words right, I just pulled you out of the way, and it goes Whaam, you would have been killed.
So, somebody said “I wish you hadn’t done that, I wanted to die,” I said, “I didn’t know you wanted to die, well, but you’re going to have to exercise that option, I can’t guess that you want to die. So I do not consider myself having trespassed on you if I give you the option whether you are going to do the dying. So, when I see that things are going to destroy people that they don’t see is going to destroy them if I do something about it, I don’t think I am trespassing on them.
Then I began to realize that human beings have all kinds of processes that they are really quite unaware of their chemistries and their processes but that the processes are going to take up a lot of their life. So I said, each human being has a capital which is the total amount of days of their life, and I do not think I am trespassing on you if I, then, anticipate some of your copings with the processes and do things that, where it is just repetitive, and I save you having to do that repetitive thing. This is simply going to give you a few more days or hours of your life. And anyway that I can give people a few more hours of their life, I assume that I’m not really trespassing. So I see then there are things they don’t know are going to happen, they are not familiar with diseases, they’re not aware that this thing is going to infect them and so forth, but I do. Therefore, I have the responsibility of dealing with these things that are going to affect their lives, that they didn’t know were going to.
Now, this means then, I think, I saw then, all the things that happened to human beings originate out of the microcosm or the macrocosm. They happen from outside themselves or from inside themselves. So that, then, gave me some pretty good ideas. I began to see that I could sort out, and this is, then, I really did this before I got into the discovering my tetrahedron, you know, getting what is called “a thinkable set” out of Universe. Where, this is probably the beginnings of my tending to sort out my mathematics in the right way, but I came, just in dealing with the environment on behalf of the human being, I saw then, that I could really begin to get things into a set of very important categories.
There were the things that were going to happen to you from outside you, and things inside. The ones that were going to happen to you from the outside, you don’t know about, and there are ones that you do know about. And you want to do something about it, to possibly to do so. I would like, then, I’m not ever going to try to insulate you, I’m going to try to give you an environmental control that, we did mention this earlier, that it was going to rain, and you can’t drink all the water, so you’ve got to get the water into a holding pattern to valve into your presence in the magnitudes and frequencies that coincide with the human metabolic processes. So that what we have I developed myself an environmental sieve that lets through what you want when you want it, sieve being sort of an angular valve. So different size sieves, for different occasions, and you have ways of not insulating or stopping anything, but in some way to intercept in a profitable, favorable manner anything that does happen, and to shunt it into it’s right position so that the energies can be used wherever it is appropriate.
So then I came then to the things that happen to you, to which you are subjected, and things that you could do objectively. And I began to find these things sorting themselves out more and more and more. And there were things that then went on outside of you that you were too familiar with to notice anymore. You were so used to that tree being there and so forth, you don’ t realize that as it grows the roots are getting big, and suddenly your sidewalk comes up because the root has broken it. In other words, there are things that are overlooked, that are going on that could be anticipated, that we know the roots do get bigger, and so forth. I saw that there was a great deal in the design, the more we think about things, there are things that I really can anticipate on your behalf, that is not trespassing, and the test is always how to get you more of your life which you can invest in your own preferred way.
Now, I advise you all to look at the Universal Requirements I have that published in a number of my books, and there is something else Universal Requirements and I continually improve that, and that brings you into the production engineering, and into the service industry, the maintenance, the maintaining and the removal of the product, getting into the service industries. I think you will be really quite surprised when you get to the Universal Requirements. Because having the kind of experience that I’ve been telling you about, I’ve had that list all of these years, and I am continually from time to time trying to improve it. And it really has finally gotten to be quite worth-while. When I first started in 1927 on this, I said, if I’m going to do things on behalf of my fellow men, what are all the things that can happen to my friends. So I said, well, the first thing to do is start making a list of anything you can remember. I said I’m afraid this list is going to be very big, but I’m going to start in, and I was surprised that I could only work on it for about a week or so and I couldn’t think of anything more. People look at you in an unfriendly way, and somebody throws a stone at you, and there are all the things like that that you can think about. So you start writing them all down. So, I say, after a couple of weeks I couldn’t think of anything more that happens to you. Then, in 192 that was ’27, in 1929 I was having lunch, this was the year of the Great Crash, with some architectural engineering editors of architectural engineering magazines in New York. They were the leading magazines, and these were their leading editors. And the Crash was there, it had already occurred, and they were all building had stopped pretty much and these editors were very interested that I had a check list of all this all the problems that designers must cope with. It is good to have such a check list. They liked the idea, and so we developed at that time, a little association we called the Structural Study Associates, and they used to come to my place down in Greenwich Village weekly to meet and talk about structural study problems. They were quite taken with my general approach that I had taken in 1927 about the environment etc., so, at the beginning of all of our meetings, people would say, “Do you have any more items that you can add to the list of things that can happen to you, that we have to cope with?” They added a few and then it finally got to where nobody was adding anything anymore, so it was decided I ought to publish it, so I published it in SHELTER MAGAZINE here in Philadelphia, in 1930, and once something is published, again I say this is something strange because there is something mysterious about getting into print, printing machines belong to humanity, you’re getting to talk to a lot of people. You could be trespassing, am I doing something wrong by using the capability to speak? And so I’m saying to somebody, personally I find it is very mysterious, if the system you live in, your things really do get into print, at any rate, how it was once it was in print I felt I didn’t have the responsibility of having to remember it any more quite the way it was. There were lots of copies out there, and lots of people know about this. So I was very surprised when I happened to look at it a few months later, in my file, and I, the sheets where I had been working on it, the printer’s sheets were there, and I suddenly looked at this thing with new eyes. And I said, this thing is-is really quite crazy, because I had mosquitoes along side of tornado. I said, they are really quite incompatible, I think I ought to take this list and sort it out all over again and in the order of relative severity of its effect on the humans. I don’t know why I haven’t thought about that before, but I haven’t. You can understand how I hadn’t actually, because the way I came at it was that I needed to have a list.
So, I then said, I am going to try to get each of these into a category, and sure enough, I found that I began to put each of my items into a file, a file cover, regular leather file cover, so I had them labeled there. One was called, the only item that could go in their were novae, the explosion of the stars it was very large. And, I called this, you know “ionistic” or something like that, and then it came to “epochal” something enormous, and then something, the word “enormous”, and then something “pretty big”, and then “not so big”, and so forth and down to finally “innocuous.”
So I started sorting the things in these envelopes, and sure enough there wasn’t everyone of them had something to do with man or something to do with severity, so they all had an envelope that they would go into. So within those envelopes I then began to see, “is one of these a little more than another?” So making little strips I was able to sort them, and sure enough they did arrange out, every single one of them was easily, this was just a little more severe than that one. You really can think about whether hearing trouble versus a scratch on your face, and so forth, you can find out. So I ranked them all, and when they were finished, the most extraordinary thing happened.
You remember earlier today, I gave you the definition of the word “science” by Sir James Jeans, as “the attempt to set in order the facts of experience.” It was not until I did what I just did, that I suddenly realized what an extraordinary statement he had made, because I had these were experiences, and I had suddenly sorted it out the facts of experience, into relative order of magnitude. When it was done, absolutely clearly the most severe was the least frequent. This was absolutely quantum mechanics of Universe. What the Universe does then, you always she has her energy, you don’t make energy, there is energy, so anything she wants to do, she can do a few big ones very infrequently, or a whole lot of little ones very frequently. That’s the way the Universe is run. That is quantum mechanics. It always adds up to what have you. So I saw then this was pure quantum mechanics, the big ones are the least frequent, and quite clearly mosquitoes are much more frequent than tornadoes. So, boy, I didn’t have to have the name tornado or mosquito any more they could have a number on it. I said this is an incredible kind of a capability of a designer to have, because I’m going to because part of my design was also, then, this total responsibility and recognizing the rates of change in design, I always had specific longevity how long did I expect that this was going to be valid. Not something you were trying to sell and get rid of something you were being responsible for, so I ‘m going to design this for five years, therefore this is something that only happens only every 300 years, I probably won’t have to bother about it. I wouldn’t know how to make a house novae-proof. So I don’t try. But I see the things that I can do quite well since you and I wouldn’t be around anyway if there were a novae, so I saw what I was really responsible for. It was pretty easy with that list, then, to say, what is the total amount of time, then, I really am responsible for?
O.K. Now, but that is the Universal Requirements, so I say if you go look at it today it has gone on and on and been rewritten time and again, to actually incorporate what I have learned a little more from each of my experiences, I get into getting something going reduction of practice working with society to be an absolute reality. And how you then responsible. You can see how I would like to get things withdrawn and get the fresh thing coming and so forth.
So, now we’re going to look at some pictures and these will be, the first one is of, that’s the grain bin house that the Butler Manufacturing Company in Kansas City. And that’s the picture taken in 1940. As W.W.II this is 1940. I had just done, I had left FORTUNE in l940 this is the thing I did next after FORTUNE. And, I had been traveling in the midwest, in Southern Illinois and so forth, with my friend Christopher Morley who was a great writer, and I saw these grain bins of the Butler Manufacturing Company, and the grain bins were all around. They are corrugated steel, horizontally corrugated sheets that are bolted together, and on the top they had a conic roof. And part of the great New Deal coming in and trying to rehabilitate farms as well as mortgages and so forth, was that they began then to credit the farmer with wheat, so grains could be harvested and put the Government would loan they would pay the people for the harvest that was put in the grain bins, so grain bins were where the little farmer could cash in and the government would hold and stabilize the price really look out for him. Grain bins, then, were enormously proliferated and this Butler Manufacturing in Kansas City had THE best grain bin. There was nothing to touch it.
I got to know the old man, Mr. Norquist who was an old Swede, who produced the first one a metal worker, a sheet metal worker. And then, he became then the President of the Company. They had a factory in Galesburg, Illinois and another one in Kansas City, over fairly close to the area where Harry Newman lived there Harry Human And the Harry TRUMAN. The, I worked for two years with Butler getting this thing fixed up, because I saw in that sheet steel, corrugated, getting the most wonderful enclosure, but not something you would live inside. The moisture, the precipitation, it was not good if it was properly insulated, and if it had the right kind of a roof because it was open, just a conic top, corrugated, and airs came in and insects would come in, and so forth. And I saw that if I had some windows in the grain bin and so forth, that I really could convert it into a little dwelling device, that I felt the war coming could be extremely important.
And so, I kept telling Chris Morley, we were on this interesting mission of his, going down to the Mississippi River to a little tiny town on the Mississippi. Chris was visiting Knox college, in Southern Illinois and visiting the English Department and giving a lecture there, and Ralph Sargeant who has been the Head of the English Department at Haverford for a great many years, was the English Professor at the time. We went down to see a little town on the Mississippi that Chris Morley had been following the records of Edgar Allen Poe and so forth, and he found that Edgar Allen Poe had been going down the East Coast of the United States, and he got down to Louisiana, and was going to go up the Mississippi. And he found that Edgar Allen Poe there was a man who owned the first printing press on the Mississippi in a little town that was on the east bank of the Mississippi, not far across from Hannibal, and he had invited Edgar Allen Poe to come out and be his editor, to start a press on the Mississippi there. It was just a little bit below Nauvoo, where the great colony had been of the Mormons and so forth. And so, Edgar Allen Poe was on his way, and he never got out of New Orleans. I’m sorry to say he also drank quite heavily, then. At any rate. I’m not sorry about anything! Everything is great! He had a good time there. (Everybody in the audience really laughed). But at any rate, Chris Morley had a hunch, that he’d like to go and see this press, and he found that the family, the press was still there, and the family of the man who had owned it was still there, and he asked if he could go up and look in their attic. Chris made friends very readily with people, and he went up in the attic, and he found all the correspondence with Edgar Allen Poe of this man who owned the printing press about his arranging for him to come out, so it was an enormous great find.
Well, just at that time, Chris Morley who had also, he had been brought up at Haverford, and he was therefore a Philadelphian and main line, and his, he and his three brothers each one of them became the Rhoades Scholars from Pennsylvania and went to Oxford and Cambridge. And Chris’s father was President then of Haverford. So I used to see a lot, Chris and I used to go down to Haverford quite a lot. Chris, at that time wrote a book called KITTY FOYLE, which was about the white-collar girl in Philadelphia, and it was extraordinarily well done book, and it became very, very popular. And for the first time, Chris with forty-five titles, ever made a really large amount of money. And it then went into a moving picture, and, having read Kitty Foyle and being in Philadelphia you might really find it extremely amusing. Really a very pleasant book. And so, he made money, so Chris Morley said to me, “I think Kitty Foyle would like to have you go out to Kansas City and see the President of the Butler Manufacturing, because you have been telling me about all the things, how you might be able to make some nice low-cost shelters, because obviously they don’t cost very much money.” They were really being stamped out. And so he said Chris said Kitty Foyle would like to pay your fare to get out to Kansas City and back.
I was very penniless at the moment, I assure you, so that was great, and I did go out, and I met the old Mr. Norquist the President of the Butler Company, and he liked me very much and he loved the idea of using grain bins for houses. So he complimented me very much, and I spent two years getting this thing going, and different kind of roof, a compound curvature roof I put a dome on it rather than a cone, because a dome is a cone is simple curvature, a compound curvature very much great strength. So I worked out ways of very simple press work to be done in their shop to make the compound curvature. Then, this is when I said, we now will be having housing and building with so relatively little material, that instead of building from the bottom up, which is the way the buildings have always been built, I think I can, because it is circular and will have structural stiffness of compound curvature, I think I could then, build this from the top down, because I think I see one of the ways in which people one of my responsibilities as a comprehensive designer is not to have a lot of people killed.
In 1927 when I started the Dymaxion House, the most dangerous industry in the world was the building industry, by far, and the second most dangerous thing that happened in accidents, were in bathtubs. It’s interesting, number one is the building industry, and to such as things as bathtubs, and then you know, building, something I really wanted to cope with, I saw no reason then for people to have to go on scaffolding. So, I think I told the Butler engineers I was going to want a secret place to put this up. They found this place behind one of the other factories there where nobody could see, and I then did assemble my I put up a mast first, then I had an assembly ring where all the roof pieces came together, and this was going to be used later on to mount a ventilator. So I put my assembly ring on the ground, put my mast through it, and then stayed my mast. Then I could have pulleys and so forth, a block and falter (?) and get with a sling to my ring, and I could lift the ring up. So I could pull the ring up at a good height for the people to work on while they brought the roof pieces together, and then I keep hoisting up and keep adding on the ground.
So finally I got it up to where, there is still another ring to be put on where you can see here, but at any rate, I had it up off the ground by quite a little. Later on I was going to let this down, and what I had done was to build a, draw a dig a trench, a circular trench which was very easy to do just strike a circle and then take the earth out of it and put it up into the center of the circle, so that you would get a little plateau above the water water, any sort of drainage problem, and then I got a bunch of brick, and enough to lay the brick side by side, it was four inch this way flat and make a complete ring where the grain bin would sit down on that ring of bricks they’d act like little snow shoes and distribute the load, and then we’d have to find some way of fastening the grain bin tightly, and it did have, the bottom of the grain bin had a turn angular skirt like this so with holes in it so you could fasten it down, staple it down, or put any kinds of stakes I wanted, down.
But I had, in this picture, if you will remove me from the picture please, have then, this dome is on its mast and hoisted up and underneath inside there was a pile of sand which I am going, later on, to flatten down evenly inside the brick to act as a basis for the floor. And this pile of sand was inside there. I called the engineers and the President of the company and said, would they stop when they came out to lunch, and come see the dome, which they did. Now, it was August, 1940, and it was noontime, and on that day it was well over 100 in the shade. It was fantastically hot day. Kansas City can be one of the very, very hot spots. And so, they came out and they really were astonished to see a grain bin hung from a mast, they had no idea you could do such a thing. It really once you see something like that it looks pretty easy, but it had just not occurred to them, they had always been going up on ladders, and some of them were built really quite high, and the ladder work was really very uncomfortable. And suddenly, saw you could do this masting.
So, the President of the Company, said “I’m going to go inside.” You could not touch the metal with your hand, it would absolutely burn you. There was, on one side, where the doorway was going to be that you go in, and so he went through the door, and he called out to everybody, “hey, it’s air conditioned in here, just like the Kansas City Club, and so everybody thought he was kidding, and went in, and absolutely astonished said it was really cold inside, truly cold, and over 100 in the shade and it was cold. Everybody wondered what was going on in here, so they lit cigarettes to see what would happen to the air, and sure enough, the most extraordinary thing, the air was coming down at the center. There was an opening, you see, around this great big ring, 3 1/2 ft 40” ring in diameter, and the air was coming just down like that and going out underneath the edge of the dome. So you see the smoke would come right down and go right out. This is then where I was getting into very important aerodynamics of buildings where I found that we have concave and convex. And I have spoken about concave and about convex not being the same the radiation impinging on the convex is defused, and the radiation impinging on the concave is concentrated, so the sun is shining on a convex surface, and the convex surface then defuses the sun’s radiation into the atmosphere, and this atmosphere is then heated. And the heated atmosphere means the molecules are becoming a little more active, taking up a little more room, there is no confinement of them now, so they take up more room, so they weigh less, and therefore they start a thermal it starts rising, and the, to take the place of the ones that are rising, air has to rush in from below. Now what was going on here is really a fascinating matter.
And then I got into this more and more the big pattern studies that then there is a thermal rising from this thing, and this then having to get air to satisfy it from all around the base here to come rushing in. I found then that as the dome was up like this in the air, the there is also with every thermal, also a second down thermal coming like this. At any rate, the airs were being pulled out from underneath of the dome by the opposite column it pulled it out. It was pulling the air in through the hole in the top.
Now we have the Bernouilli principle this is pressure differential. And just go over the study of the Bernouilli principle in your physics book and you’ll find that we have “peto tubes” and so forth. In the Bernouilli principle when you pull the air through a small opening, it takes a good deal of energy to do it, and it takes the energy out of the as heat out of the air to do this work of concentrating it. If any of you have ever flown a light plane, if you learn, if any of you learn to fly, you’ll know as you start learning your flying, as you then are coming in for a landing you want to approach the field you are going to then make a leg you get to a point where you cut your motor and start your first glide, like this, and back down. As you cut where you cut, you have your prop fastened to your engine, so there is not a clutch, and you don’t take the key and shut the engine off. What you do is you push-in the throttle, you simply starve it of gas, and as you do that then, the prop still goes around, the engine is always connected, so the pistons are going up and down like that, and the engine the ship is slowing down, and by the time you make a landing you want to be where you get to a nice stalling speed. So you had to start this slowing down. You then learn that the air being pulled through the carburetor, gets pulled through a fine little hole in the needle valve, by an enormous pull, and you have to put on what you call “carburetor heat” before you force your throttle back you put on “carburetor heat” where they take all the heat possible from the manifold and concentrate it around that carburetor, because otherwise it will freeze up with you, because it gets so cold, so that when you are going to make your landing, now, you have made your glide, and now you’re coming in, and suddenly you need you’re going to hit some wires, the wires you’re not high enough need a little more engine no engine. So carburetor heat. This is the Bernouilli principle pulling air through a small opening, makes cold.
So what was happening was this enormous amount of air being pulled out, you must look at the edges there, they were good and high, and so it’s been pulling out in all those directions, and being pulled though the small opening of the top and it is absolutely a cold down current. Now this was very exciting to me to really learn that a building could be an air conditioning machine in its own right, aerodynamically.
All of my geodesic domes I then realized this was there, and as I built any of the ones that are large enough, that are going to have really quite a large occupancy in it, and that the patrons like my dome and so forth, when I tell them about what I tell you, the air conditioning salesmen are much better than I am, so they always put in air conditioning, because everybody knows that heat rises inside buildings, and don’t tell me this nonsense. So that they, what they would do is put a fan inside of my thing and try to pull it the other way, completely frustrating what Nature is trying to do. I told my Ghanaian students in the University of Science and Technology in Kamasi about this and they were really interested, and they didn’t have the, they didn’t like the idea of that air conditioning salesman anyway, so that they also had this great Volta Damn, and all this big electricity going to be, and the enormous amounts of Bauxite so in Ghana you would be able to make aluminum, so I said, let’s get into a big aluminum dome, so we designed a really beautiful big aluminum dome, and it took them a couple of years to produce it to make the “chilling machine.” This is a picture of it. It is an unusually lovely to me it is the most beautiful of all the geodesic domes that have ever been built.
And this is made of first they worked two years on the mathematics it is a twelve-frequency truncatable into the same mathematics we used for the 72 footer I told you about of tensegrity at S.I.U. And they had plenty of big openings, at the bottom as you see. But putting lovely little hoods for the rain. And they had just a nice small opening at the top. This was put up at the fairgrounds in Accra. The government decided they’d like to have it there, and it went through several international shows and sure enough, the minute it was up, the Ghanians called it the “chilling machine,” and the hotter the sun shone the colder is was in there. It was just a lovely thing. So it was ideal for the tropics.
I’m astonished how little listening-to I get about what I’m saying to you, though, and how people keep right on. So talking about our energy needs, this would be one of the typical things you could really do a lot. It doesn’t do it for you at night. That’s one of the reasons they say, “What are you going to do during the nighttime, and so forth, but the point is you have it good and cool during the sunny times it’s going to stay fairly cool but we do have hot nights, and there are other things you’re going to have to do then, but the point is, it works while the sun is shining. Anyway, I learned about that from the Wichita from the Kansas City 1940 deal. And I also learned a whole lot more which was that I could hoist buildings on a mast, and I’ve used that ever since. It has been extremely, extremely useful. Next picture please.
Back to the grain bin. This is down in Washington, D. C. There is a little called Hains Point. It runs down between there is the Potomac River coming down, and this Hains Point doubles back and makes a great harbor, that was the Washington Harbor. Such a harbor that she had the steamers that used to go down to Norfolk came to this little harbor. So Hains Point is really an island, almost an island in the Potomac, and it is pretty close to where the airport is. You cross the bridge over Hains Point and then turn to the left, and at no time you are at the airport, the Washington Airport. And this is in they used to have on Hains Point, a tourist camp, this was before W.W.II. The picture is in 1940. And a great many people who, the Representatives in Washington liked the people from home to come there and see them at work in Washington, you’d have a it was easy to help get them reelected, and so they had this great tourist park on Hains Point, and they had it so people could come in buses. And sure enough, in the Spring, the graduating class win the right to go in a bus all the way across the country, to Washington, to see Washington.
So the park had all kinds of bathing facilities, and certain little houses where people could live in Dormitories and things. And the housing people in Washington, with the War coming, became terribly interested in this grain bin, and they asked me if I would bring one to Washington and put it up at Hains Park. So it was over there at the corner of Hains Park and I see that there are three people and myself out there in front. But, Wally Saunders who worked with me on the design, a wonderful architect of the University of Michigan who is now dead, and his wife Carol. And you can see the car in the background and get a little sense, this is 1940 car there. So that the grain bin really worked like a dream, and we were able to produce this whole thing for $315, and inside,
Next picture. It had lovely cooling door on it, a screen door, and it had curtains, which like theater curtains could be pulled up with a chain at the bottom so it would be weighted and wants to come down to the center, and then theater curtains, in a circle, as a semi-circle, pull it up, you would just let go of the chord and the whole thing would shoot to the center the way you see there on the lower right-hand side going in. And the walls were everywhere, the inside the beautiful insulation, and used fiberglass insulation in them, and the wall board holding the fiberglass in there. And the runners that held the wallboard, the vertical runners had key holes in them so that you could put shelves or anything like that you wanted, and we had a ring going around a, first, what you call plug-in strips. Wire plug-in strips going completely around so you could plug any electrical current wire in and come down with any fixture, then, you had.
The President of Sears Roebuck was a friend of Mr. Norquist this old Swede who owned the Butler Company, and he helped me a great deal, and we got up a package in the Sears Roebuck of a kerosene ice box, a kerosene stove I developed a toilet which was just a little cylinder using a septic tank which was a tank, itself, and just extended it’s sides with some corrugated metal, and a little top on it, and it had a petition here, so that there was a shower here, and a seat there, and a little wash basin, all on top of the septic tank, so that did just work, and there was a water tank for the water up in the top of the little cylinder itself. So it shipped as a horizontal cylinder, up and it fastened on down to the little dome here. The whole dome cost $315. The Sears Roebuck package which included two roll-away, what we would call a chaise lounge where you could lie down flat, two roll away beds, and six kind of drug-store, aluminum, metal-tube chairs, and table really fairly standard kind of a plastic top table. But the whole thing with the bathroom and all came to about $700. It was an 18 foot diameter, really extremely comfortable. Wall Saunders and his wife lived there for quite a while, just really checking it out. Because he was a very good architect and she was a very good housekeeper, and they really found it extremely good living.
Then the flooring, itself. You might say “How did you do that?” So I wanted to keep that very simple. I told you about, then, filling it with sand inside the bricks, and I wanted it to be above any water tables, and I developed the drainage thing to what I told you, to get some height by the dirt you took out of the trench itself. And then I put down corrugated, again galvanized steel sheets which overlapped the corrugation overlapped each other like this, cut them into sections which made a circle. You’ve made them into a triangle then dress them a little more with a curvature, so there’s not really there’s no real waste of the sheets. I was able then to have the curvature ones to this wall, and then keep adding, and they keep overlapping each other so that there is continuous metal like that, and that sat on the sand. And then, on top of it, I put at right angles, precessionally to the corrugation and the joints of the corrugated sheets I put soft insulating Masonite, half inch, ran that way and then turning at 90 degrees against the joint I ran the Masonite hard surface panel, and there was an interesting thing about the Masonite with the hard surface polished on one side and not on the other, is that it always wants to bow upwardly, so that by having it on the floor, it always laid flat, it never wanted to curl up towards you, and so we were able then, to have completely dry floor just laying these things the way I said to you, nothing fastening down. The whole thing held down just absolutely superbly. And then we found it one of the most attractive the springiness of the metal going down into the sand was a very, very comfortable floor. So it was a completely demountable affair. We developed these with the Housing Authority and the war people all the departments in Washington were terribly interested in something that might really call, this was a D.D.U Dymaxion Deployment Unit.
But in New York, at the time I was doing this, there were a number of Scots, and these Scots were of some of them were just visiting there and so forth, but the Scot great land owners had offered to England to use the Scot moors for with the bombing they were expecting that was going to occur in England, they would like to have a place where people could deploy, and they wanted some kind of a shelter, so they liked this. The actual designing was done for them, and they were the critics as to whether it was valid.
When it came when suddenly the war did break and England was in, they found that the highest priority was steel simply any steel you could get from America had to go into the armaments, so it just was not available for this. I was able to get quite a few things done. The windows it was the first time Plexiglas, or the acrylics were ever used for a window. The Air Force had all of this absolutely tied up, so I had to go after my friends in one way or another and wangle to get some of it. So these were the windows on this were the first time a building ever had acrylic windows, and they had little hoods over them to it worked out a very kind of nice mass production windows and screenings and so forth like that. But that you could do such a thing for such a price seemed amazing.
What happened was that they were used the defense, the National defense used them, what used to be called the Signal Corps, then they became the that was given up all together. But the first radar work was being done, all the research work on the radar on the coast of New Jersey up here, and they needed a number of little shacks for doing all kind of radar studies for boats on the Atlantic and so I put those up for them all over the place, and then came the suddenly the war was really on, and the United States used them for the Russians then were their allies and to give the Russians airplanes they would send ships with airplanes into the Persian Gulf and up, so this is where we’re getting to the oil kind of game going on. The Northern end of the gulf they had the unloading, and this is where we made the fly away deliveries of planes to the Russians. So that the Russians and the Americans had lived in these things General Electric got out an air conditioning unit to be inside them, it was very hot, it was very hot down there in Arabia so $125 air condition was added and the thing still was under $l,000 and really a very good home. So all the crews that put together all of those airplanes for that lived in those domes, and they were used fairly generally for radar control shacks.
Well, this piques me in many ways to realize that you could have so very much for so little, this
Next picture. We come into then what happened was the series of buildings for the oh, no, here’s my bathroom. The bathroom you must remember was a late Phelps Dodge development, did I tell you that, and I did use copper to do it. But will you help me, may I have those bathroom pictures please. This is the first one I made and then I perfected it very, very much.
Next picture. This is the second model and the top halves have been taken off. On the left hand side as you come in the first one you can see where the seat is the toilet seat, and on the right is your wash basin, and you step on a step in through a doorway into the tub, and we had venetian blinds to keep so that the water would not come out in the outer room at all, but you could have your shower and everything was inside that second part. The tub itself, what I had learned about the danger of tubs was that all of those accidents, #1 the old fashioned tubs up on legs, they were a different height, as your legs came out the tendency was to tip over and fall like that, in either way, going either direction. And so, I had then a step, going in there you’ll see a built in step in the wall. All this is in, actually a formed affair, like forming an airplane wing, you understand, or stamping an automobile part. There is a step with a cork top on it, and the door when you take hold of the sides of the door, there are handles on the door, and you step into the bathtub, and you just could not be more secure, and the height of that step and the height of that tub were exactly the same, so you felt quite comfortable going but because I had the tub elevated considerable height with the step, then the housewife could lean in there very easy to wash it with and she is standing on the floor, so it was an extremely easy to clean tub.
Now everything I did in this room, I’d like to have my own figure out of the way so that I can talk more about it. On the, I found one of the things that would be very desirable with the wash basis, would be that you could also wash the babies in it. It could become really a very safe kind of a wash basin. But you don’t want spigots sticking out in the wash basins there are all kinds of things around that are really very dangerous in relation to the baby in it, and I also felt very quite bad, for hitting your own head and so forth. So that this wash basin, my pipes came up on the inside of the rail where you stand up against the front rail there, the pipe’s inside there, and there is a hole, a nozzle, but just faired into the wall on the side where and the water goes away from you into the tub, instead of have the water come up your cuffs like that, as you stand in front of it, as you turn on the water, the water goes away from you, of course it has the hot and cold water mixing valves, so that it comes out just what you want. But I found how to make a very much better nozzle, really a lovely kind of a stream, and it would So water was going away from you, and here suddenly, and I made it the size of a really good tub to bathe a baby in, the largest sized baby you would want to put in, so it was very, very comfortable, nothing sticking out, no sharp things, all absolutely smooth curves, and as I said no spigots or anything, and the water came out just on the same side towards you above the spigots where they came in, so everything worked very nicely.
Now, I had, between the two rooms, incidentally each one of these were made the size of the doorways, so if I ever wanted to get one of these into an old farm house and so forth, and they were 28″ wide so they could go through the smallest of doorways, and they went in in two sections each of these oval forms. And the oval forms that I had, the compound curvature, it was a four inch radius of the compound curvature, which was extremely neat, and I was able to make up dies where the whole bottom of the bathtub was made off of this oval die, with the four inch compound curvature, the ceiling pieces were made that way, and then the die broke up into separate pieces and you could make the seat section you see there, or you could make the floor section, all of these got pressed or I should say these are part of the pressing for pressing the inside of the bowl then. So, the between the two, there was a saddle, and all the manifold of pipes ran below that saddle between the two, and the tub being elevated, then you could dress your bathroom, the total outside dimension was 5 feet by 5 feet, and it could go up in the corner, and wherever pipes were they could come in underneath the tub through the wall from this side or that side and come to the main manifold so that it was very easy to hook up, so I then had also between the two of them, electric strip heaters so it was a self-heating, and therefore if you had it in an old farm house you could have trickle current so that it could not freeze up during the winter and so forth.
Then, the whole of the drainage of the tub itself was towards that saddle side, the drain was on the side there, very gradual. The tub was of really usual tubs are maybe five feet overall, but there is a very long slant so the actual bottom is maybe only 3 feet or so. This tub was so large, it was the only tub I ever floated in, my head was touching, but my body literally floating like you’re on the ocean. It was a beautiful thing to be in and it was 6 inches wider than the usual tub, so very, very comfortable for your arms.
The, I remember, when one of the early bathrooms like this was bought by Noitre designed them to be used in a house of the man who was John Nicholas Brown of Fisher’s Island, and it was, he, John Nicholas Brown is, I think, 6 feet 6″ or 7″, and his wife is about 6 feet 3″, they are both really very big, and they tried these bathrooms, and they said it was the first time they were ever really comfortable in a bathroom, so even though the whole thing was only 5 x 5. It was extraordinarily comfortable, and the way the wash basin was much bigger and more generous than any one you’d ever have. Now, I really did spend two years doing nothing but really getting things the way they could be really right on this. I said this is when I used, then, the stainless steel toilet bowl so that it would not break up if somebody fell on it, and it could have absolute, very correct choke so that I could use very little water for the flush out, saving very large amounts.
The average American every time he just flushes the toilet may just use it for a little liquid, he is using, we’re averaging about 5 gallons to get rid of a pint of the same water just a little polluted water, polluting water at that kind of a rate nonsense kind of things go on in that bathroom. Water being so extraordinarily valuable. We don’t know of any other planet with any on it. Boy!
Now, that bathroom, between the two then, there is a lot of space where that saddle is, where you step in, where the pipes ran through. And so that near the wash basin end and the tub, the two ovals are going away from each other, there was really a large space. And I had on the side as you stand in front of the wash basin the way I’m facing now, and up on your left then there was a door, and you opened the door, because there was always a cabinet, the large space between the two sections, and it was a very big cabinet. It was so big that you could put in a full bucket on the bottom shelf. Then I had my, it hinged open this door, the things you’d like to have in the cabinet. So you opened the cabinet because you want something out of it, and as you did the mirror is on the inside of the door so it opened, the mirror is now in front of you and the wash basis and the shelves were opened to get the things you wanted, so you’re not continually opening and closing and when you want you close the mirror off and all the room is nice and neat again.
So that, in every way, it was designed for the air conditioning below the wash basin you can see a little, on the lower right hand side there a little space there, there was a hook up, there was a large ventilator outlet, and the airs came in through the sides of the doorway up near the top the fresh air was brought in through there, and was pulled out by fan below the wash basin so all the steams and all the smells went down away from you. Now all I had to do, everything was so complete, that we had all of the manifold of plumbing, all the wiring, the heating, the lighting was all built in, and all you had to do was to hook up to the fresh water, the hot water and the cold water, the waste and the air vent. That’s all you had to do, and so this really got to be a very, very good unit.
Now, I had a very interesting experience with this, because at the time of the Dymaxion House, 1927-1928, coming to New York in 1929, there was a man, quite a rich man in New York, and he got quite interested in my Dymaxion House, and he asked me to come give a lecture on it at his house, and Frank Vanderlip, and he invited a lot of people like Clarence Wooley was the President of American Radiator Standards Sanitary who he thought would be interested in my house, and old Owen D. Young was President of General Electric, he was a very influential man, and he brought all these influential people to see this house. These people were full of really considerable consternation.
It was the Dymaxion House was a problem poser for these human beings. I had one of my classmates was Fred Ecker and his father was the President of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company at the time I designed the Dymaxion House, and I got a hold wrote to Fred Ecker and then I saw him when he came down to New York, and I said the life insurance companies were betting on the people were going to live longer, and people were betting that they were going to live shorter. So I think that anything that I might design that eliminated accidents and the probability of human beings having trouble in a house, ought to then really improve the life insurance companies bets, so I think that Metropolitan Life ought to be tremendously interested in my house. And that did turn out to be the case. Fred Ecker was absolutely exited in love with it. He was one of the young junior officers of the company. His father was President at the time, so he introduced me, then to the Controller, and then finally I met all of the officers, and we had a number of very enthusiastic meetings they were going to back this thing.
When suddenly, we got to their Board of Directors, and it turns out that the, in the life insurance companies at that time, were only allowed to invest in municipal, state or federal bonds or in mortgages. And so that Metropolitan Life found that all of its capital was in mortgages, and they said, if we let the Dymaxion House get going, it is going to make all of our mortgages lower all their values so we can’t do it. The Board of Directors said, you just can’t back it. This really was a very frustrating sense that I had about that. People could see, yes it is very desirable, and yes, they had all very good business reasons why they wouldn’t do it.
At any rate, Clarence Wooley, Head of Standard Sanitary became very excited when Frank Vanderlip had me show this thing to him, so he wanted to have something done about those bathrooms and my kitchen and things like that. And so I did, then, do work for the Standard Sanitary, used to be called the Pierce Foundation was their research department up in Buffalo. And there I developed what I had also had in the earliest patterns of this thing, the kitchen and the bathroom plumbings would be back to back so you would only have to bring the water to one point. You can understand that was very logical, so that I developed for the up in Buffalo in their research department a back to back bathroom and kitchen which had never been done before, and that has become very standard in housing to use those things.
At any rate, I made the bathroom in panel forms, and I may just as well tell you this because it is a good production and DESIGN ENGINEERING kind of way. What I did was to develop, in that case, a frame construction where I used tubular, just pipes, and you could take a piece of channel iron, it’ll nest up against a pipe beautiful friction very tight. I made channel iron frames, quadrangular frames, which then sat in between vertical pipes, and as you put it up then a pipe in place, then it was possible to lock a number of panels and get into the wall side had each one of these panels were about let’s see they were 3 feet by 2 feet so that I’d have, for an 8 foot wall you might have 4 of them, one above the other, and they were panels which I used sheet metal, and you made a pan, and the pan, then would receive a piece of Masonite, or celotex insulation it would fit neatly in the piece of pan. We, then, one of the things that the Standard Sanitary and the plumbing people have a lot of is ferrous enamel work, beautiful enameling where they take literally glass and melt it up, and melt it onto a surface of steel, and makes it a very, very fine surface. So that I learned a great deal about the radius you have to use on your metal in order to have it not crack at the edges and things like that, so I developed these panels, and they could be in lovely colors, and they would fasten into your walls, so, but I could have panels which the panel also turned out to be a wash basin, or the panel could be the seat so that the walls could spout. You could have interchangeable ones just a plain panel, various fixtures that did various things in the bathroom. It really worked out extremely nicely with these back-to-back plumbing manifold behind that wall.
So the bathroom fitted into the panel system, and everything fitted very nicely. The bathroom was really a very charming looking bathroom and it was not as full as the bathroom I have developed here with all one piece at all, but it began to be part of that where things were coming off the wall instead of coming off the floor, and it was easy to keep the floor nice and clean at least. The Standard Sanitary and American Radial Standard Sanitary suddenly stopped this whole thing. And they just clamped down on me, and we must not talk about it. Because the Plumbers Union, which is really it is an employers union, because the plumber is a master plumber himself, he is the employer. But the plumber’s union had a national plumbers magazine called THE LADLE, for pouring your lead and so forth, for joints. And the LADLE published an article saying that Standard Sanitary they heard was working on a bathroom and they were never going to install these things, and they were going to stop buying anything from Standard Sanitary. So Standard Sanitary was sickened by this thing, and so they must absolutely keep it quiet. Because there would be no really very little work for them, just installing this thing very rapidly.
Then, I told you about Phelps Dodge, and Phelps Dodge having the Phelps Dodge Copper Products. And I’ve told you then that the in Phelps Dodge I was trying to get things that would really help them, so I, this was a good chance to try out my bathroom unit, and I’ll do it a little better this time, and so I did get out that good bathroom that I told you about, and I found that the President of the National Plumbers Union was also the borough President of the Bronx, and one of the great Franklin Roosevelt supporters, and so they were having an annual banquet of the Union in New York, and I asked if I could present my bathroom at the time of the banquet, so they said “Yes,” so I put it up in the dining room, and they were fascinated with it. And I said, “I have looked into this matter very thoroughly, and I find that the electrical fixtures people, the electricians, make a great deal of money that you boys do not make because as part of the law of America that the land is it, and anything that is fastened to the land belongs to the land. This is, incidentally, why lunch wagons began you begin to see a lot of lunch wagons, and you wonder why there are lunch wagons, and it was because they were brought on wheels, and as long as they could go away on the wheels again, they did not belong to the land. They were able, then, to get out much fancier equipment that would not then be claimed by the land owner.
But if you put a bathroom into a house in America it belongs to the owner if you are renting. So people were not putting bathrooms, there were so many people who were renting, they would not put bathrooms in because they were going to belong to the owner, and what was the use in doing that?
But the electrical equipment belonged, because it could be taken away, then belonged to the owner, so people bought lots and lots of electrical equipment. I got into all the figures of the marketing of the electrical equipment, and showing how much the electricians made out so I said I have now a bathroom which you as a plumber can sell as a bathroom, get a nice profit on it as a bathroom, you can get paid for installing these things, and you’re going to install many more of them. So, at the dinner they decided that was so.
So their magazine, then, published a very laudatory piece about my bathrooms. Suddenly in Phelps Dodge, the Phelps Dodge copper products people were in great competition with the mining President, the Cates, and Cates had backed my bathroom. So that the Phelps Dodge Company said, “Our biggest customer is Standard Sanitary, and they” the Standard Sanitary people didn’t know about what I’d done at the Plumbers Union and so forth they notified Phelps Dodge that if they kept on with my bathroom, they were going to stop buying copper from them, so Phelps Dodge dropped it. I had not designed it to be in copper, you see, I designed it to be in polyester fiberglass, which was in the laboratories. But the setting temperatures were at that time, where you had the temperatures 2,3-400 degrees, not room setting, and so forth. But I was assuming that we’d get to where we could. So it would have been ideal in it. And I had to put a kind of surface on it which was made of antimony and tin, it was a very lovely thing, it would not tarnish, and it would not oxidize.
At any rate, I want you to understand the kind of history that you do go through and the interplay you have with big business and the idea of the money, where people can see the logic of something, support you on it, and then suddenly they turn very sharply because they find it is putting they are in jeopardy, their incomes and so forth.
So now we come to, I have been using a lot of time already, and actually we have not gotten to open up these pictures of the Wichita House, but if you don’t mind we’ll go on a little while and if it is alright for me to go on with you? O.K.
We have then, there is Wichita House, and it is called it is Beech Aircraft and you’d like to know how I happened to be doing Beech Aircraft. It happened then, I told you, I was on the Board of Economic Warfare, and we had in Washington before W.W.II, the War Production Board, and the War Production Board was run by, to start off with, by the Vice President in Charge of Manufacturing at General Motors. He knew the most about production.
And, the War Production Board had a number of departments like Aeronautical Production Boards, and so forth, and there were Labor Departments of the War Production Board, and so forth. It got to the very interesting point in the moving of the manufacture of airplanes west of the Mississippi, I just gave you. Absolutely overnight. And they moved into Wichita, Kansas, a city of 100,000, and within weeks there were 200,000 people there. Everybody was sleeping in shifts. Actually three shifts, in beds. And they ran the moving picture all night long, on a 24 hour basis so that people on the 12-4 shift, and so forth, you went to the movies at 6:00 in the morning or whatever it was. The place was run on a 24 hour basis, but extremely uncomfortable.
There were a great many people then, this was in all the places they moved into Oklahoma and so forth, same kind of thing, but particularly Wichita, Kansas, which is where the Boeing B-29 the big bomber had to be done there, and it was very critical. So the War Production Board became very concerned, because the people going to Wichita war worker after war worker went there and they found conditions so uncomfortable, and they said the aeronautical world doesn’t have any future after the war, nobody could think of seeing anything like that. These airplanes were just for the war, so we’d better get a job someplace else where things are a little more comfortable, so the quits began to exceed the hiring by an alarming amount. To such that they said we will never be able to get our airplane program through.
This became great consternation to war manpower, the War Production Board, particularly Aeronautical Engineering, and so there was a Labor Section of the War Production Board. That’s where Herman and Greg Bartecki were, and they told me that the labor unions were very interested in this situation. In the Labor Unions the Aeronauticals these are called the, what’s the matter with me? the National Association of Machinists, and Aerospace Workers today, this is the full name, and the National Association of Machinists is the oldest Union in America, they have really the original master craftsmen of the machine tools and so forth, real machinists, and so the machinists union said they would like to help about this production. They knew of this really troubled because labor was leaving, therefore everybody was saying to labor, “What are you going to do about this?” And the machinists said “We think something could be done.” They said, “We have heard about Fuller has a house designed that can only be produced in an aircraft plant, and maybe that would be something, this would mean then, that after the war you are going to need houses and not airplanes, so that we might be able to get to where these might be appropriate for an aircraft plant. And that seemed to appeal very much to all the people in war production who were concerned, and Grover Learning was head of the Aeronautical Production, and he was a friend of mine, and so it was decided that it could be a good idea, and so the labor unions said to me, “Would you like to pick the very best labor union in Wichita, the one we consider the fairest to labor and the most favorable to business, to try to really get things going, and not really being destructionary, so I said “Of course.”
So the National Association of Machinists, then, picked out, because they were in all the factories out there, they picked Beech Aircraft, they said they have by far the best labor relations in Wichita. And so, I was asked then to go out with the labor men, and the War Manpower, and the War Aeronautical people we made a trip to Wichita for me to talk then to the Vice President, the Operating Manager of Beech Aircraft, a man named Jack Gaty. And I went over my design of the Dymaxion House, but a modification I had made to it by virtue of a great many changes that had occurred in technology since 1927. I updated it very much to the design you saw there, and for the moment, it is still on the mast, but it is not up in the air so you don’t realize it is on the mast. Because, for various reasons, I thought were valid, you could have it either way, you could have it up, or down, either a garage or a hangar.
Now, I showed this whole thing to Beech Aircraft. Jack Gaty himself was a production engineering man, and very astute, but also a very hard operator executive, and he said this really is suitable. He thought I might be an industrial designer, that I simply was just going to but he saw that I really was using aircraft technology, that everything I had there was very suitable, and that he could see it could really be very economical, so he was really game to go ahead and do something.
The labor unions then had me go and give a lecture at their labor headquarters to all the shop stewards of all the aircraft companies there, and they decided that this would be very, very favorable they were all interested in housing. And I was really amazed at that labor, because they did not look at it in the way architectural esthetic might be thought of in some cities, they really looked at it as a sailor would about a boat. They could see this kind of a boat would work, and they knew their aircraft technology, they knew that it was beautiful materials and it was going to be very strong, and they said “That’s great!” So they were very much for it.
So then the deal was made with Jack Gaty where I said I will only do this, then, if you, Beech Aircraft, let me have top mechanics for I don’t need so many. You have thousands of men employed here, but I would like to have he asked how many, and I think I said “eight of the very best mechanics you have” superb craftsmen who I then used for several months to do this job. And they were to loan us the tools from Beech Aircraft, it was to be under their auspices. They decided at first it was going to be in their factory. They then hired another building downtown, they decided it ought to be conducted, it might be disruptive in the actual practice, but I did get these best mechanics, they said all the tools I needed, whether I wanted big power brakes or whatever it was, they came right over and installed them.
So, you see what I really learned in lessons about this. Now, the, it is a fascinating matter, that the, having talked to all those shop stewards, within a week after this agreement was made, they had the curves in Wichita the aircraft, of quits over hiring, the thing just going off like that, and it stopped absolutely abruptly it went absolutely vertically like that, and went just exactly the other way. The hirings began to so apparently it was just what the human beings there felt it was worthwhile living under the tough conditions in Wichita and so forth, and it was everything that Board of War Manpower wants so War Manpower then said, they accredited my having anything I wanted.
So, and then the Air Force gave us an order for two of these units to be used then for General’s headquarters on Okinawa, some Pacific Island, because they had to, then, be subject to all the transporting and so forth. So under those auspices we went ahead and produced, then, this structure, and when the war was over, the unions then immediately said to Beech Aircraft, alright how about that house now? And at this point many things began to go wrong because, then, it turned out, Beech Aircraft itself said, “The local banks here we’ve always been we’re the only aircraft company, but when the war came the government didn’t have to give us money, and give us our tools. We were able to carry on on our own. We carried on for a fantastic number of years on our own, and the local banks have agreed to give us $10 million for tooling up our private plane business,” which was their forte during the war they made several things bomber wings but they made, primarily, the general’s car the Beech 14 which was a beautiful ship for that an eight place general’s ship, and those are still going pretty strong.
So Beech said, the banks have given us, you need $10 million at least to tool up for that house, and Beech did go into a study, the production engineers costed it all out. They put in a they gave a firm written bid to produce this house $1,800. But it had to be in lots of not less than 20,000 a year. In other words they looked for that curve of the all other that I gave you about the automobile this thing began at 20,000 the numbers of types of parts in automobiles is 5,000. This only had 328 types of parts, so you understand why it could start lower than that automobile figure, 20,000 and you suddenly were all other costs are now leveled off with the cost per pound.
So, it did not have, however, the kitchen and that equipment in it. Beech, the General Electric, then got up a deal where they would rent to the house a complete package of kitchen and so forth, at a very favorable rate I’ve forgotten what it was, but the yearly rate was so low, it made the whole idea of living in it, very favorable.
The, there were over 37,000 letters wanting to order one of the houses. The publicity was really unsolicited, and then suddenly began to go very fast, and this extraordinary overwhelment of orders many with checks and so forth. But there was nobody to produce it. Beech didn’t want to do it, and all kinds of exploiters came along, wanted to put up money, and they were really not the kind of people you would like to do business with one way or another, and the next thing that happened was, that there was no way to distribute. This thing was premature that way. I did try to warn people who were putting up money, backing it at the outset, that there was no provision here, as you produce the end product for the delivery of it, the kind of equipment you are going to need, how do you get this many installed properly and things like that, so we found then the contractors who came and began to want to be distributors for it in various places, I did develop a truck which you’ll see in some of these places for assembling my dome, and that could have been modified, but in order to pay for that truck, to keep it really paying for the distributors you would have to install several houses a day. It could do that, but that means then you have a whole lot of things to be taking care of, because there are all kinds of building laws, codes, but the most, absolutely defeating fact was that the electricians and the plumbers have the absolute monopoly on turning on the juice to the city and the main supply. And they will not put it on, and they said, we are going to take all that plumbing apart, we’re going to take all that electricity apart.
I had an absolutely beautiful harnesses, like the airplane, to just hook the whole thing up, but they were going to take it all apart. All the really great savings were in trouble, so the project wound up, not in bankruptcy and so forth, but it just didn’t go anywhere.
I am very glad to say that the momentum, the government there were a lot of people in government and a lot of money, I don’t think it was really kind of political money, wanted to back it, did then back got so educated in the idea that they backed the Lustron House, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation finally put $30 million in Lustron and the whole thing flopped. Again because the times had not really come. The older building industry and the old contractors didn’t like that feeling at all. It was, in many ways, it always contradicted their interests, so it’s time had not come.
Now, I’m going to show you more. This is just a model.
Next picture please. I talked to you yesterday about the aeronautical interception of the winds, I said that in having a windmill you have a fan, but it has a limited size, but this building then is going to interrupt an enormous amount of air of the winds, so we went into studies with the, I’m using the turnip shaped great gas tanks out on the prairie there, the gasoline oil storage tanks they’re what are called the Horton spheroid form which is going to be very much like this, and we were given permission to climb all over it they had great ladders going up, using long poles and streamers, many of them, they would get the aeronautical patterns of the airs flowing around those big buildings, and taking anemometers of the different parts and finding that out in front of it, like in front of the bridge of a ship on a boat those places you could light the cigarettes out in front there, where there is the least air motion, there is really a vacuum cone out in front where the airs are being opened up, they are opening up, pulling apart, and it is absolutely still. But then as it goes around the shoulders it gets an enormous velocity, and then airs have to come together again, so there tends to be great turbulence on the tales and something like that and you can see it from on top of the tank, and particularly when they got to be having some snow. The tale goes down maybe sometimes as much as a mile. It’s a very enormous drag on these buildings. And we found what these velocities were.
One way or another we gradually began to study, I talked to you about the umbrella doing all of these things, and how could I then get to the point where take all the air motions around the building, and we find where the focus would be and then have a ventilator that would rotate so it always, the opening of the ventilator would be exactly where the low pressure was trying to pull the air.
And you can see in here, this picture was a transparent model. Will you remove my figure in front, please. You are looking at a transparent one where the floors are double and you can see how the airs were, if you pulled, there was a cylindrical mast inside where you pulled the air, either from below below the building right up throughout the house there is a vacuum line, fastened to the vacuum, to the ventilator on it right now, and if you pull the air over various circuits, so you could pull the air out of the double floor, which meant the air is being pulled out around the edge of your floor so if you want to sweep or anything, the air just you just sweep to the air jetting and it’s taking it away from you and so forth. It was possible to get beautiful aeronautical controls all through the building, and there was then, we would put smoke in these things and see exactly how these things would behave.
We went then, began to then develop wind tunnel tests where we had this building on a scale so it would tell you exactly where the drag was and so forth and in front of the big venturi. I went to, then learning more about it and having the models hung upside down as they do, inside the middle of the wind tunnel, we found what the drags were on that building. We were, then, truly concentrating all the drag of this building at this one point.
Next picture, then, we are looking at here, these are all the parts for my building when it is finished. I designed it so that no part was to weigh more than 10 pounds. Any part could be picked up by one man. Each part should go into place without anybody having to wait for someone else to put it in, so you’d have one hand could handle it, and the other part could fasten it into place. So they could work, really, quite fast. Everything was designed to be nested, so as you are looking there, down low there, all those floor beams of aluminum, beautiful aluminum floor beams which is where you’re going to pull the air through and so forth. Those are all nesting one in the other. They weighed very, very little. And all the ceiling pieces, everything is there.
Next picture. You see the boom coming from the truck that I developed to assemble them. And the boom is above the house. We’ve got the mast up. The mast consisted of seven stainless steel 22-foot long by three inch tubes each tube weighing 10 pounds. Very light in your hand. You put it up like a billiard cue on the little button there, and then seven of them are strapped together, and we had runners between them so that they would not twist like a rope, and then as you put these straps on like that, there were cleats, so you kept climbing the mast as you went on up doing it. The hardware was very exciting with this job. So that the mast, a total of 70 pound mast, and incredible carrying capacity. So there it is standing up, it is a very beautiful thing, and had a header on it, very much the kind of thing they get into racing sailing boats today, but it had all kinds of shivs ball bearing shivs and so forth, because I then had, we then had a ring that was going to be put around the mast. You’re going to lift it like an elevator, and from this ring you had the, what you call the rods they were the aircraft chrome molly rods going out to what you call the “A” ring. And the “A” ring was just all screwed together kind of like a fishing pole and then, then there were diagonals going down to the “B” ring, and sort of like a Japanese lantern form as it came down like this, and then finally to the “C” ring. Then we went down, rods crisscrossed down to the floor ring.
Now, what you’re seeing there is a mast standing up, and up on this heading there were all these ball bearings and you had lovely shivs, and a little winch over here so the cables would pull there were six cables came down over ball-bearing shivs through the ring, so this whole thing went up like a theater curtain. It just was a lovely thing.
And, next picture now. Incidentally, the bottom ring is in place and that is made out of magnesium was very light large magnesium castings of what we call a “Z” section, went like that, like that, that way. And the inner lip then carried the inner flow, then everything rested on that it was very, very stiff going like that, and obviously could nest. The “Z” could nest on the nest. The individual pieces were 12 feet long. The castings were about a half inch thick. It was a very powerful ring, but magnesium weighing relatively little.
When I hung, when this thing goes on up with the, then, that ring was hanging there, an amazing thing happened because you take a diameter of 36 feet, so , and you’ve got then about 110 feet long, this thing. Now a beam 110 feet long like that, I would just kick this thing, and like rubber it went around there, I never saw anything like it! Any one piece, you would swear nothing could ever budge that thing, I’m talking about metal this thick. And this section was 4″, 12″, 6″ very stiff, a half inch thick. But to see what really happens then when you get to a big size, to see, you just hit it and a wave going around. It is an extraordinary thing. Of course, we stabilized that with as you do with your wire wheel in due course, but I want you to realize the very interesting experience you have as you get into things like that, you never could dream of happening.
Now, we are about then to, the “A” ring has been put in place, and the “B” ring has been put in place. Those are also lovely, those are stainless steel tubes, very, very thin weighed fantastically little.
Next picture. Now they have been raised and the roof sheets have been put into place. Now the roof sheets, I had ribs, and these ribs are what they call a hat section. This is of sheet metal, and it was only 032 they called it, it’s the thinnest like they make the thin skins of an airplane with. The hat section, “U”, like that, and so there is a lovely channel on either side of the “U”, it is a very, very stiff affair. Then they have what they call a stretch press, in the aircraft game, so I took these straight channels these straight hat sections which were very, very strong. Each one of those weighed just two pounds. They were 13 feet long, and I the stretch press we had is a wooden form, and it has the hollowing out of the shape of the hat section, and then has the sides of the wood, are the sides of those “U” channels on the sides of the hat section. This, there are two great fists that take a hold of the ends of that hat section, and these two fists, the hydraulic arms move, and it pulls it down over that wood, it pulled it in the exact shape of your curvature. Incredible the stress press. Lovely tools you find like that in the aircraft industry. We have some lovely pictures of that, but I am really getting to a point where I can’t bring all of the pictures in, I’d never get through. But at any rate, those hat sections have been put up there between the “A” and the “C” ring, and then we have, they are bolted at the top and they are bolted at the bottom.
Then, the, what we have then is the roof sheets are then just straight panels of aluminum cut triangularly so you gain economy because you can cut one triangle this way and one that way they are long gores and they have a turn up angle at their head and at the bottom so that they are pulled very tightly by bolts over the frames. If you look at them you see actually they are pulled this way. There is also a little secondary curvature, you get into hyperbolic almost hyperbolic saddles, and they don’t have to touch each other, because between the two I kept a deliberate space so that ice could melt between them and so forth. There is a deliberate space of about l/8th of an inch between the edge of each sheet because each one of them is being stretched over this hat section which is a gutter, so any water just goes through the gutter and comes down at the bottom. And we, then, all the guttering we had also on the inside, an inner skin so all the moistures of the building precipitate inside, all the water outside, all came down to a built-in gutter that ran around just above the window section there. And that came down through pipes in the window section to an enormous gutter at the bottom all gutters that landed on this building, either generated inside or outside, we caught it all, it all went to a cistern.
Next picture. You’ll see the whole roof suddenly. I told you that a little elevator went to work, so it was like an absolute beautiful theater, she went up like that, poof! And then, now all the cables are pulled taut across pairs of diamonds, and then we get in the Plexiglas windows and so forth.
Next pictures. And then, there is the big ventilator 18 feet in diameter, it was mounted, I used a Cadillac front wheel spindle bearing which had very good bearings, and so very good forging, as the main spindle for it to sit on. And then we had where it went around the 18 foot track we had ball bearing rubber wheels that went around a track. All of this was mounted on a splining a spline would slide this way like that, so my shaft for my top ventilator which rotated like that, could slide upwardly on a shaft. It was designed so when we get tornadoes, one of the things that happens is immediate and incredible dropping down of the pressure, atmospheric pressure incredible drop. And what happens, the buildings have air inside it, normal pressure, but suddenly the pressure drops outside, so the building explodes. That’s why you see so much lumber and everything in the sky. Everything explodes.
So I had this, on top of my building now, it’s designed so if there is any big explosion or there is a would be a tornado this is like the safety valve on a steam boiler, the whole thing just slides up, so immediately it was good fun, I found I could then control the elevating of that from the living room, we could even let more air in, it was all screened so that it was beautiful for regulating both pulling the airs over preferred circuits and taking care of the ventilation of the building with the aeronautical flows under complete control.
Now, you see the big ventilator being lifted on top.
Next picture please. They are all very nice, really, designing of the window sills and the side walls below the window had little elevators, and the whole side wall would drop down like that below the window sill, the aluminum went down like this and it was all screen, so that you could get any amount of ventilation you wanted below it, and you didn’t open the window itself. The windows themselves were Plexiglas, acrylic, double, because you were on a curve, and therefore there was one cylinder inside of the other. So a really very thin sheet putting it in the cylindrical curve at enormous strength so there was a little space just between the two and it acted like thermal pane, so there were a great many, incredible niceties in the design of this unit.
All the parts came in that cylinder on the right, and we learned then how to do packing, because all of those parts, you saw them standing by the wall, but by having then a central shaft, and jig shipping, little arms sticking out from the central shaft, rotating around, and you built all the parts into that, and that slides into the cylinder.
Next picture please. I’m sorry to say, this is the, the house, then, sat there in the building where the rent was very high that Beech had been paying, and Beech didn’t want to carry on about that anymore, and so the company, everything was broken up everybody that was backing it, because no production really was arranged, and so, the company had not run out of money, but if was almost down to the end, didn’t want to lose it, so that they simply disbanded the company, and this building was costing a lot of rent, so that the richest oil man in those parts, a man by the name of Bill, what ever it is, and Bill is a very hard trader, like many rich people, and he said he would take it off of their hands, I mean pay them $1 rent to take it off of their hands, and we had 100% spare parts that had been built for the Air Force, so he said I’ll let it back to the company, anytime the company wants it back, I’ll just turn it back to you, but I’ll rent it for $1, so he went out to his oil lands, outside of Wichita, he has a home, and he used a tractor he borrowed a tractor, he wouldn’t buy one, and he made himself a lake there water, and he put up this house. But he used it mostly he had been told that the ventilator that the children would be sucked out of the house, so he took off the tale of that, he ruined all those things, and he built a great stone foundation. It was like mounting a DC-3 on concrete. So there had never been anything quite so incongruous.
At any rate he brought up his six children in there. The bathrooms worked and all that part worked, and it is still there. And, but I say, I feel quite badly about it. I went out with all the workmen from Beech Aircraft, two years ago we had a wonderful reunion there, and they looked over all the parts they had made. They were extraordinary men. My feeling with them was very much my feeling with you I am sure you are beginning to feel quite intimate with me, and we feel an enormous camaraderie the camaraderie of that group was something never to be forgotten, and they always feel just as strongly that way, most of them are retired, but when they all came together. The machinists brought them all together. It was really a great joy.
Now, I’m just as confident as can be. One of the most beautiful things happened about this. My original estimate about the weight of the Dymaxion House where this had the same two bedrooms and the same two bathrooms, the same living room, all the things were really the same, except that I didn’t elevate it where you could have the garages, but that wouldn’t have made it any heavier anyway. The, where it came out the same 3 tons that I had figured for a Dymaxion House in 1927, so nothing could have been really more fortifying to my confidence and my capability to design. But I am really very confident that we are going to see something of the Dymaxion House.
But what I then did to my strategy, because I was so upset by the electrician business. Because the electricians and the plumbers I want to say are, they are really merchants. They call themselves “master plumber,” they are not, really of the laboring class. And they play a lot of tricks here, and they do have these licenses and they play politics very, very heavily. So what I found was that the electrician and the plumbers would bring me an electric wire or water pipes out to an open field, where I might be a farmer, and I might want to have some kind of spraying going on. But they will bring it to an outdoor head, and so I said “Right”, and they will put the meter on it, then we’ll hook it up.
So I said, alright, we’ll have them do that, and then I’m going to I said I see that the trailer business is starting,” and I see that houseboats and all these things are coming along. A lot of people are working on the mechanical package now, what has to go inside, I’m simply going to do the shell, and then by doing the proper shell this brought me, then, to my realization. My experience that I had with the mast of the Wichita House, the real problem was for the big overturn of the winds, the stays had to be fairly far out, you can understand the angle advantage. I found those stays bothered me coming in through the as I had to allow for them going through the house, I found what I could do was simply make the mast itself a sphere. That I could get into the geodesics. Therefore I wouldn’t have to have an interior mast even, the mast itself simply swells up is just a truss mast, a fat mast. And so, I saw then, so I began to develop and then what I could do was have the water and the electricity brought to the sight, and then I’d bring my dome and put it there. And then you could drive your trailer in with a package just a platform with all the machinery on it that you want.
I saw that this could probably be a way that we could really get going and not really run into so that became my strategy in going over completely to domes at that point.
We are now up to 11:00 and I think it would be a good time to say off today. Tomorrow I do want to talk a lot about philosophy, but we have not shown, and we have an enormous number of domes slides to show, and they have so much of the projects with students, and the consideration of all the design science commitments that you really have to make and how the students really learn about that. I think those domes are really worth showing, we find that we can extend over, Meddy will tell us a little about this. We have our Saturday and the Saturday can be quite long. We realize we have many hours in it. And so, I would like then, to get into those domes and the student projects with you tomorrow, because they really do show so much, and they represent the beginning of the real break through. Wichita was great, but really it had not happened yet. But the domes really began to happen. And they really became very much a part of the way the world is working today. And so it is interesting the first ones to be really installed, were the ones for the Defense Early Warning System up at the head of Thule. I said, way back in ’27, one place I’ve really got to start and really meet the conditions, and where there would be no defense would be in the Arctic, sure enough, the first place my domes really ever went was the Arctic, and in great numbers.
It is interesting. I’m just going to give you a finishing figure tonight. The Western Electric Company who are the parts manufacturers for the Bell System and the Telephone Company, I’m sorry to say the Federal Government made, I think, a very great mistake right now. Their anti-trust is trying to break up the Western Electric that manufactures parts for the company who gives this service with the parts. At any rate, Western Electric had the contract to install the Defense Early Warning System, it was a fantastic contract. How many DEW line radomes there are, I guess it is still classified information, but there are a great many of them, ringing the Arctic all the way from Scandinavia across the Iceland and Greenland and so forth across all of Northern Alaska, down Canada and Alaska and down the Aleutians, and, the Western Electric’s operation and most of this had to be on snow, and these extraordinary conditions of the ice-frozen ground. Terrible stuff to work with anyway, but practically everything had to go by air. Some things got up by ship, when they got to having their northern passage, but the operation that Western Electric did in installing that under the adverse conditions of the Arctic, in which it is really terrific to operate, the logistics of it are very fascinating.
The actual weight of materials moved, the foot/pounds of work they did was equivalent to what went into building the great wall of China, and the great wall of China I think was 300 years, and this was done in 3 years under those Arctic conditions. It was one of the most incredible operations of history. I don’t know of anything quite so formidable as really undertaken in such a big way, and really so superbly executed. To really try to break up then a Western Electric is just my idea of the industries that really count are the service industries, and you have to have the very deep cooperation between the Bell System and the Western Electric. I’d like to go on the witness stand with the Federal Government, but most of the time I’m glad they’d be tackling big money, but I don’t think of them as big money. The operation of the telephone company has always been really in a sense very moral, it’s been a great deal owned by the people of the actual workers, it’s been as reasonably as moral as an enterprise could really be as far as it is an enterprise.
And I think but I think the consideration of the worker and everything has been really phenomenal, I’m really a severe critic of these things, so I did, do like to have built into our piece that I hope they will not break up the very, to me absolutely essential intimacy, and from a DESIGN SCIENCE viewpoint of the Western Electric and the Bell System.
This is in Thule, this is the northern end of Greenland, almost up to the North Pole. And, it is just an incredible operation. I have one over the exact South Pole which you will see tomorrow, the exact ,.It is called Project Deep Freeze. It is a lovely dome.
Now this is a lovely dome. They have an eye dome on the side there. I think we will then stop for tonight, and we’ll get deeply in these then tomorrow.