American mass production machinery and electronic computers crossed the Atlantic in the two decades before and after the second World War not as neutral machines; they carried with them ideas about social and economic relations that encapsulated the American capitalist model. The book, Productivity Machines: German Appropriations of American Technology from Mass Production to Computer Automation (available from MIT Press) investigates these transatlantic exchanges. It unravels the history of productivity technologies and culture and its role in the US ascendancy to global leadership in the twentieth century.
This website is a companion resource for Productivity Machines. It provides core historical sources from the book for research and teaching purposes. These range from productivity studies to computing and automation technology, management and labor relations in the United States and Germany, the perceptions of German visitors to the United States, and the Marshall Plan’s Productivity Program. In addition, it gives background information on the twelve national, corporate, labor, and technical archives in the United States and Germany that have been consulted for the book project, and it offers suggestions for adopting the book in history classes.
Research for the book was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, and this website fulfills the requirements of the NSF Data Management Plan. It is the result of a semester-long project in which students familiarized themselves with the book manuscript and NSF’s data management requirements; studied best practices for online data management and preservation; reviewed companion websites, selected primary sources from the book manuscript as well as other content to be included in the website; composed and revised introduction to the primary sources; received training in WordPress; and designed and created the companion website.