Jenn, this is very interesting. I was just born about the timeframe you are looking at. When I was young, about ten years later, I used to avidly read trade journals my father would bring home. I still remember some of the advertising slogans.
I was espacially impressed by the number of companies mentioned from Illinois (where I am now) and Ohio. We have lost a lot of that manufacturing and it is not good.
The manufacturing is coming back in the form of custom creations in people's garages. About a year and a half ago, I spoke with a teenager in 4H. We were both training to be shooting sports instructors for the state. This young man had a complete Bio-Diesel process set up next to his parent's barn. He claimed to be making Bio-Diesel for a pre-tax cost of under $2.00 a gallon.
Listening to him discuss this, I had no reason to doubt it. There are some things that I don't think scale up well. For one thing, he didn't account for his own time costs very well, nor did he account for land cost. But even so, he was definitely on a very interesting path.
He's not alone. People are scaling downward and redesigning industrial processes to something that can be adjusted on a custom scale. We are re-growing our industry in a manner where flexibility is a major capability, and regulation is not much of a consideration.
These little pictures remind me of how many small components we need for everyday stuff that could easily be fabricated by someone in a garage...
It sure is interesting to me to look at some of those old things, and wonder, What Were They Thinking? Or, as often as not, Damn, That Was Clever. My antique radio and TV hobby often has me studying old circuits and their 60-year-old physical incarnations wtih the same mixture of awe and derision. We do SO much better nowadays in efficiently manufacturing some things (or at least we CAN do much better), but it's still amazing to see what engineers did back in the slide rule and pencil days.
A rope wrap manual starter. Love it. Used to mow, always had the rope tied on the handle of the push mower. Then got a lawnboy, with recoil starter, it even was self propelled. I thought I was in tall cotton. Ended up not using it much, because it was too slow. Mowing up to 3 acre yards with a push mower, sure I wanted a rider, but almost no one had them
Like you, I grew up reading my dad's hand-me-down trade magazines, mostly Design News. Among other things I remember were all the small ads from what appeared to be one-product companies located in California. Of course there were plenty from New Jersey, and Illinois, but to day it's hard to even imagine Los Angeles as a manufacturing center. Even auto body shops have been forced out of Los Angeles by pollution regulatins.
Fantastic slideshow, Jenn. The only company name that I know is still around is Kohler (others may still be inexistence, but I didn't recognize the names). I wonder if readers know about any of the others. And, yes, CCarpenter, I think an occasional "Where is this company now?" feature would be an interesting idea.
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