Regulating Railroad Innovation: Business, Technology, and Politics in America, 1840-1920

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Cambridge University Press, Mar 11, 2002 - Business & Economics - 398 pages
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Efforts to create and mould new technologies have been a central, recurrent feature of the American experience since at least the time of the Revolution. In Regulating Railroad Innovation, historian Steven Usselman brings this neglected aspect of American history to light. For nearly a century, railroad technology persistently posed novel challenges for Americans, prompting them to re-examine their most cherished institutions and beliefs. Business managers, inventors, consumers, and politicians all strained to contain the forces of innovation and to channel technical change toward the ends they desired. Moving through time from the first experimental lines through the polished but troubled railroad machines of the early twentieth century, Usselman examines diverse forums ranging from legislatures, and evolving corporate bureaucracies to laboratories, engineering societies, and world's fairs. In the process, his book situates technology within the dynamic history of an emergent industrial nation and elucidates its enduring place in American society.
 

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Contents

Assembling the Machine 18401876
13
Engines of Expansion and Extraction The Politics of Development
15
Acquiring Technology Insider Innovation
61
Patent Problems Inventors and the Market for Technology
97
Running the Machine 18761904
141
Patent Remedies Politics Jurisprudence and Procedure
143
Mastering Technology Channeling Change
177
Standardizing Steel Rails Engineered Innovation
215
Engineering Enshrined
242
Friction in the Machine 19041920
269
Reluctant Innovators The Annoying Allure of Automatic Train Control
273
The Limits of Engineering Rate Regulation and the Course of Innovation
327
The Enduring Challenge of Innovation
381
Index
389
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