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It was my intention, for many years, to write on the history of the development of modern technology from the viewpoint of the structural metals used to build our 21st century world. I started this work more than 30 years ago. Many times I have picked it up for a while and then laid it down to do more pressing things connected with earning a living. In addition, I have felt along the way that the subject matter is so vast and that other workers in the field were so much more qualified to perform the task that I was willing to defer to them. However, no one came forward to do the work. In the meantime, a whole generation of metals workers who might have written a more comprehensive history, a more knowledgeable history, indeed a more elegant history have passed from the scene.

So, I take up the challenge of presenting the history of the development of metals as both an industrial activity and a science, which made possible the present world of land, air, and space travel; of chemical production in rust-resistant plants; of buildings reaching over 100 stories high; of welded ships that can cruise for months at a time on nuclear power; and many other engineering accomplishments that the average reader takes for granted.

The past 100 years have been ones which indeed could be called a second industrial revolution, or more accurately a technological revolution. The industrial revolution was based on steam power. This technological revolution involves electricity, oil, and nuclear power combined with developments in transportation, communications, manufacturing advances, and general consumer needs. Nearly every major technical advance, however, has been accompanied or preceded by the development of a new metal or alloy or a breakthrough in the use of an existing one.

Charles R. Simcoe

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