August 1, 2014

Legacies Of World War I

The Wall Street Journal has produced a 100 Year Anniversary site commemorating World War I by collecting 100 inventions, developments and events that continue to effect our lives. It is a fascinating study that involves short, easy to understand essays for each category.. The following is one of them - "Mass Production."
A year before World War I erupted in Europe, Henry Ford saw the first of his Model Ts built using a moving assembly line.

While the assembly line concept had been in use previously, Mr. Ford’s perfection of the moving-belt technique transformed manufacturing. Soon he cut the construction time of the Model T chassis from 12-and-a-half hours to just over 90 minutes.

The production technique not only revolutionized the auto industry, it changed the way wars were fought. World War I was the first conflict to benefit from this fast and efficient means of mass production, with the outcome of the war heavily influenced by the industrial coordination of the countries in conflict.

For the Allies in particular, the production of tanks, airplanes, ambulances and munitions sped up dramatically thanks to the implementation of the assembly line.

When the U.S. entered the war, it brought with it much-needed manpower and the means of mass production. The U.S. government enlisted auto manufacturers to help crank out airplanes and engines, spearheading the production of the groundbreaking 12-cylinder Liberty aviation engine.

Assembly lines increased production in France too. The man sometimes referred to as the “French Henry Ford,” André-Gustave Citroën, left his position at the front as an artillery officer to open an assembly-line based munitions factory in Paris.

Drawing on lessons gleaned from an earlier fact-finding trip to U.S. auto plants, Mr. Citroën’s factory was eventually able to crank out tens of thousands of shells a day at the hands of its mostly female staff. France’s Renault employed assembly lines to accelerate the roll out of trucks and tanks.

The Great War is known by some as the war of production.
And here's another surprise, the legacy of Joseph Pilates:
Pilates a legacy of World War I? That’s a bit of a stretch, surely.

Well no. Turns out this form of fitness beloved by celebrities and mainstream gym-goers alike was conceived by a German boxer and bodybuilder while he was interned in Britain as an enemy alien during the war.

[...]In 1912, Pilates left Germany for Britain, where he worked as a circus performer and boxer. At the outbreak of World War I he was picked up by the British authorities and interned at a camp at Knockaloe Moar on the Isle of Man. It was while he was locked up that he developed his system of mind and body strengthening through physical exercise–and “Contrology,” as Pilates termed his method, was born.

Conditions in the camps were poor, and he encouraged his fellow inmates to exercise as a means of staying healthy. Some of the internees were bed-bound, so Pilates took springs and straps from the beds and attached them to the head and footboards, creating an early type of resistance-training machine. These were forerunners of the spring-based equipment for which the Pilates method is known today.

Penny Jones, a board member of the not-for-profit Pilates Foundation, based in Britain, said: “The Cadillac (one of the pieces of equipment he designed) looks like a hospital bed with springs attached, and that's what it originally was.

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