Found in 2 comments on Hacker News
neversaydie · 2021-07-30 · Original thread
For the Space Shuttle part of the space program specifically, Rowland White's Into the Black is a great recounting of how that program got started and came to fruition with the first flight:

Haven't read my copy yet, but for the origins of the (extremely important) container shipping industry, Marc Levinson's The Box comes highly recommended:

Another one high on my to-read list; the story of the 19th century telegraph system and its impact (figure this is early enough to fall outside the traditional tech category):

hangonhn · 2017-08-24 · Original thread
Hang on. The longshoreman part is a bit more complicated than that. Longshoreman was actually not a shit job. The workers had a great deal of flexibility and good pay for the hours worked. The labor unions protected them too. What caused that job to decline and disappear was the container box. The container box moved the packing and unpacking part from the source and destination instead of the ports. During the Vietnam war, the US military basically forced the ports to adopt container boxes. This dramatically increased the efficiency of shipping and eradicated longshoremen jobs. Nowadays though, the people operating the cranes loading and unloading the container boxes from/to container ships actually make 6 digit salaries.

The problem with shit jobs is that they tend to be "muscle" based jobs in unpleasant conditions, which makes them vulnerable to automation and mechanization.

(Source for all this is: The Box (

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