Dr. Gunter Dreyer of the German Institute of Archaeology is perhaps the most prominent of a number of archeologists who believe that writing actually developed out of early marks that were used to tally the kinds and amounts of goods in stock at ancient warehouses. Dr. Dreyer recently discovered numerous inscribed bone labels attached to bags of oil and linen in the tomb of King Scorpion I at Abydos, Egypt. The labels date back 5300 years, are the world's earliest known writing, and describe inventory owners, amounts, and suppliers.
At first Norman Woodland simply took Morse code and turned the dots and dashes into narrow and wide lines. He simultaneously came up with the idea of using a different format made of concentric circles, like those visible on a tree stump, so that the code could be read from any direction. In 1949 Woodland and Silver patented their concept.
History tends to only look at big battles, crushing victories, and ingenious stratagems. Historically, however, for every one military campaign that ends in decisive battle there are ten consisting of groping maneuvering towards the enemy followed by stalemate and return to regroup and resupply.
Imagine that you are a blacksmith in the olden days, capable of turning out five swords per day. Now imagine two cases. In the first case, you turn out five swords every day and hope that all five are bought, today or eventually. Sometimes not many people come in to buy swords - there is a shortage of demand, in econospeak. Then you start, naturally, to turn out only three swords per day, or two, or one..
It is hard to decide on the most amazing plant in the history of manufacturing, but one contender is certainly the Venetian Arsenal, the shipbuilding, munitions-making industrial powerhouse that allowed the tiny city-state of Venice to be a world power for 600 years.
No supply chain management methodology has ever broken upon the world with the stunning surprise of the Toyota Production System, a.k.a. Just-in-Time Manufacturing, a.k.a. Lean Manufacturing. It is worthwhile to take a look at it, keeping in mind that what makes it special is not the originality of its component concepts, but their integration.
As you may know, lean manufacturing involves systematically eliminating every kind of waste that can be found in a manufacturing process. The history of lean manufacturing may therefore be said to involve every waste-saving innovation in the history of manufacturing.