Posts Tagged ‘thought leader’

The Benefits of Specs and Standards Marketing

May 21, 2010

I grew up in a technical environment. My Dad, a mechanical engineer, VP of Manufacturing for ITT Europe, and disciple of William Edwards Deming, was always reminding me about the importance of science and technology. (That’s probably why I wound up working in high tech and then founding MarkeTech.) Many years ago he sent me the following.

“How Specs Live Forever (author unknown)

“The U.S. Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the U.S. railroads were built by English expatriates.

“Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

“Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

“Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that’s the spacing of the old wheel ruts. 

“So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts?

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