I. THE ORIGINS OF MASS PRODUCTION In origin mass production is American and recent ; its earliest notable appearance falls within the first decade of the 20th cen tury. The mere massing of men and materials is a procedure as old as the pyramids. Basic industries, like weaving, domestic baking, house construction and wooden ship building, are carried on, with only superficial changes, much as they were in ancient Egypt. Cottage manufactures and handicrafts moulded the prac tices of industry until the invention of the steam-engine. With the coming of power machines the seat of industry was removed from the homes of the people and a new work centre, the factory, was established.
Harsh criticism of "the factory system" is modified by the fact that the first effect of the factory was to emancipate the home from being a mere adjunct to the loom or bench, and its later effect was to provide the home with means to develop the dignified status which it has now attained.
The new method followed the failure of the mercantile and financial emphasis in manufacture and the consequent resort to engineering emphasis. The advent and progress of financial con trol of industry were marked by two developments, the corpora tion and the labour revolt. Artificial combination of industrial plants into vast corporations for financial purposes proceeded 9n the theory that complete financial control would automatically bring complete profit advantage. The theory ignored many vital
principles of business and its fallacy became apparent, but not before serious social hostility had been incurred.
However, out of the social strife thus engendered the idea be gan to emerge that possibly the difficulty lay in the neglect of sci entific manufacturing principles. Industry was conceded to be necessary and useful ; the service it rendered was regarded as of sufficient value to afford fair compensation for all engaged in it ; the attention of management was, therefore, more directly focused on the actual labour processes that were employed. This led to what was known early in the loth century as the "efficiency move ment" with its accompaniments of time-study and similar meth ods, although its roots began in the experiences of sound indus trial observers as early as 1878. It cannot be said, however, that the efficiency experts did more than direct attention to the prob lem, by showing, in selected instances, how the then current methods were wasteful of men's earning power, and how their correction and improvement could lead to greater production, hence higher wages, and therefore a general betterment of labour relations. They emphasized a more intelligent management of methods then in use, but did not see that a wholly new method was needed that would simply abolish the problems of which the old method, under the most intelligent management, was inevita bly prolific. For example they dealt with methods which enabled labourers whose task was to load 121 tons of pig-iron a day, to load 471 long tons a day for an increase in the day's pay from $1.15 to $1.85. They did not see that another and better method might be devised which would make it unnecessary for a working man to carry 106,400 lb. of pig-iron to earn $1.85. Mass produc tion was not in their view, but only the alleviation of the worst errors of competitive factory practice.